Tuesday, September 26, 2023

August in three words: Hot, wet and humid

August in Denton County was pretty much what we’ve come to expect; day after day of highs in the mid to upper 90’s, and almost no rain.

Well, that’s half-right, anyway. It was relentlessly hot through most of the month, but heavy rains at mid-month at least gave us a break from the heat, no so much the humidity.

By the numbers, the average high was about 95 and the average low was 74, which resulted in a monthly average temperature just over 84 degrees. The 30-year average August temperature for Denton County is 84.6 degrees. At this writing, 24 days had highs at or above 90 degrees. If the forecast at press time verifies, total days at or above 90 will add up to 28.

The hottest days were August 8, 9, 11 and 12, all of which were 99 degrees. The coolest temperature was 67 on the morning of August 3rd.

August began with a rare summer cold front that dropped .15″ of rain on the first of the month. Later, starting with the 14th, upper level winds from the northwest drove a significant storm system from the plains into Texas with heavy, occasionally flooding rains. 4.86 inches of rain accumulated over six days. Total rainfall for August was 5.02 inches, 3.14 inches above normal.

After a fairly quiet start of the Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season, several tropical storms formed in August when water temperatures, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, were at their maximum. As the last days of August played out, Hurricane Ida was barreling north through the open waters of the Gulf, which were indicating surface temperatures of 84 to 88 degrees.

Hurricanes are giant heat-engines, pulling heat energy up from the surface of the ocean. As warm air is less dense than cool air, the center of the hurricane forms an area of low pressure, and the rotation of the earth causes the cooler, surrounding clouds and rain to spin cyclonically toward the center (counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere). Unless upper level winds shear off the top of the hurricane or land masses interrupt the moisture feed, hurricanes can easily spin up to over 100 miles an hour.

Late August has not been kind to Louisiana. One year ago, Category 4 Hurricane Laura became the strongest storm to strike Louisiana in over 160 years. And 16 years ago this week, Category 3 Hurricane Katrina killed 1,800 souls in Louisiana and Mississippi, plunging 80% of the city of New Orleans under water.

Closer to home, the Climate Prediction Center indicates a chance of slightly cooler and wetter-than-normal conditions in North Texas in September. In other words, normal weather.

Brad Barton
Brad Bartonhttps://www.wbap.com/weather-updates/
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 and 570 KLIF. His video weather podcast is posted to WBAP.com and Facebook around noon every Thursday. You can follow Brad on Twitter @BradBartonDFW

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