December’s weather was uneventful to the point of being boring.
Temperatures were near normal, rainfall was slight and severe weather was non-existent. Our warmest high temperature was 71 on the 8th and 9th. Our coldest overnight low was 20 on the mornings of the 18th and 19th. Our average daily high was 59 and our average daily low was 33, giving us an average monthly temperature of 48 degrees… basically normal. As we closed in on the Christmas holiday, we were forecasting a high of 70 for Christmas Day. Hope you got the roller skates instead of a sled for Christmas.
Rainfall was very sparse. Denton Enterprise Airport recorded only .30″ over December 9th and 10th, and that was all the measurable rain we received. The closest we got to wintry precipitation was some freezing fog on the 23rd. At this writing, there was still another week of weather to come, and were expecting significant rain from two Pacific storm systems on Sunday the 29th and New Year’s Day. (Editor’s Note: Denton Enterprise Airport picked up an additional 0.65 of rain on Dec. 28).
For the year (through December 23rd), Denton recorded 29.3 inches of rain which is about 4 inches below our annual average rainfall of 33.35″.
Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting normal January temperatures and slightly higher than normal precipitation (not sure I agree with that.). The Winter Outlook from the CPC, covering January, February and March, favors above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation across most of Texas.
A “normal” North Texas winter generally gives us 5 or 6 snow forecasts but only 2 or 3 actual snow events, and in recent years, it’s even less than that. Sleet and freezing drizzle are more common here than snow due to our borderline-freezing temperatures.
Three major icing events come to mind. The “cobblestone” ice event of December 6, 2013 involved a combination of sleet, snow and freezing rain, which was compacted into brick-sized chunks of ice on the bridges. Denton County recorded 4 inches of the mess, resulting in “Icemageddon.”
February 1st, 2011, a strong arctic front blasted into North Texas with heavy rains which turned to heavy sleet with north winds gusting to 50 mph at DFW Airport. Temperatures in the teens and single digits crippled dozens of power plants fueled by natural gas when their exposed supply valves froze up. Homes and businesses endured rolling blackouts. Meanwhile, several people were hurt when large slabs of ice slid off the roof of AT&T Stadium, which was preparing to host DFW’s first Super Bowl.
Another memorable ice storm occurred over December 30th and 31st, 1978, when over an inch of freezing rain paralyzed the entire area. Some local residents were without power for weeks.
We had only one actual observance of snow in January of this past year, but not enough to measure. The last barely measurable snow we had was in January of 2017, when .10″ fell. The last significant snow North Texas received was in the winter of 2015, when 2-6 inches fell on Valentine’s Day and another 2.5 inches fell on March 4, 2015. The last actual “White Christmas” in North Texas (either snow falling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day), was in 2012. On average, a White Christmas occurs in North Texas only three times per century.
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP820/570KLIF/99.5 “The Wolf.”