Extreme weather pattern continued in March

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Meteorologist Brad Barton

“Not uneventful” is the genteel way of describing North Texas weather the last six weeks. From below-zero temperatures in mid-February to three severe weather outbreaks in March, our young spring weather has been demanding our attention.

By the numbers, March was warmer and drier than normal. The average high was 69, the average low was 45 and the monthly average temperature was 57, over 2 degrees above normal.

The warmest temperature was 78 on March 28th, while our lowest was 30 degrees on the morning of March 3rd, and only three nights barely below freezing during the first week of March.

The latest freeze was 31 degrees on March 7th, probably the last freeze of the season.

Rainfall continued to be sparse; only 1.49″ during March, 1.63″ below normal. However, parts of southern Denton County revived nearly 2” after storms with small hail blew through on March 24-25.

January, February and now March have all under-performed in rainfall. So far this year, Denton has received only 3.56″ of moisture, less than half the 7.72″ it should have received by the end of March.

The U.S. Drought Monitor lists Denton, Collin and Dallas counties in “moderate drought,” while Wise and Tarrant Counties are considered in “severe drought.” Over one-third of the state’s 254 counties (89) have instituted burn bans, including neighboring Wise and Parker counties.

With an early spring rainfall deficit of over 4 inches, and untold freeze-killed vegetation, our early spring wildfire season could be serious. If conditions permit, now could be a good time to clear dead brush away from homes and buildings before Denton County goes under a burn ban.

North Texas had three outbreaks of severe weather during the month. On March 16th, severe thunderstorms produced wind gusts of 60-73 mph across North Texas in general.

On March 22nd, thunderstorm winds in excess of 65 mph brought down small trees and produced 1″ hail. Two nights later, the worst outbreak of the month produced 2″ hail in southwest Denton County, including Roanoke and Northlake. Three-inch hail was confirmed west of Alliance Airport in Haslet. A tornado warning was issued for southern Denton County that night, but nothing more than routine wind damage was discovered the next day.

Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts warmer-than-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall for April in particular and spring in general for the entire state. That seems credible, given our current weather pattern.

Despite the worsening drought, we are likely to see more severe weather in April and May. Please review your severe weather safety plans: Notification via text by your local fire department, local radio, TV and NOAA All Hazards weather radio; (Smart phone weather alert apps are not always instantaneous) a storm shelter closet, pantry or bathroom near the center of the house away from windows and a battery-powered radio (yes, they still make them, check out ccrane.com) to stay informed during phone and power outages.

WBAP 820 AM is the only local station broadcasting all severe thunderstorm, flash flood and tornado warnings for the entire 13 county North Texas warning-area.

About The Author

Brad Barton

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820/570 KLIF/99.5 “The Wolf” and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Read his column on Denton County weather each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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