This spring severe weather season is turning out to be one of the most active and deadly in the past three years and we’re only about halfway through it here in North Texas. Frequent outbreaks of storms left Denton County wetter than normal for the month.
Our coolest reading was 35 on April 1st. Our warmest was 91 on April 10th. Our day/night average temperature for April was 64, roughly one degree warmer than normal. Windy, too. Denton Enterprise Airport recorded a 41 mph wind gust on the 6th and on the 18th; a 47 mph wind gust was recorded on the 10th and, during a severe thunderstorm on the 17th, a 74 mph wind gust hit the airport.
As you’d expect, rainfall was substantial. We picked up .03″ on the 4th and .26″ on the 6th. A severe storm dropped 2.11″ at the airport and hail the size of baseballs at The Colony City Hall. Others in Denton County had quarter-sized hail. A few days later, on the 17th, another severe storm produced 1″ hail in Justin and dropped 1.91 inches of rain. Yet another round of strong storms produced 1.3 inches of rain over the 23rd and 24th and produced some 60-70 mph winds in Tarrant County.
Total rainfall as of April 29th was 5.61 inches, which was 2.65″ above normal.
As noted above, spring severe weather season has been far more active than in previous years and Texas has not been spared. An outbreak of tornadoes and severe storms struck Franklin and Alto in East Texas, killing four. Another tornado-producing supercell that blew up near the Texas/Louisiana border tore through Ruston, Louisiana after carving a 150 mile-long scar across the state.
The National Weather Service and local broadcasters are doing their part to give you as much notice of potentially dangerous weather, often days in advance. It is your responsibility to be “weather-aware” in the first place, and have multiple ways of getting warnings (live local radio and TV, NOAA Alert apps and other free weather apps). Bookmark “spc.noaa.gov” and “weather.gov/fwd” to get a valuable overview of storm potential in your area. Don’t depend on outdoor warning sirens.
Once a warning is issued for your county, turn on local TV or local radio. As the primary Emergency Alert Station for North Texas, WBAP 820 AM broadcasts all Severe Thunderstorm, Tornado and Flash Flood warnings. Also consider adding a storm shelter certified by the National Storm Shelter Association. Even the worst severe storms are survivable if you take proper action in time, and get into a proper shelter. In the absence of a shelter, go the lowest floor of a home or business away from windows, possibly a bathroom and wrap yourself up in blankets, pillows, even a bicycle helmet. And get a weather-alert radio!
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820/570 KLIF/99.5 “The Wolf” and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.