Monday, January 17, 2022

La Niña likely to lead to warm, dry winter

In most ways, November weather in North Texas was near normal, which is okay, but we’re still somewhat short on rainfall. And speaking of “okay,” for what it’s worth, our winter weather outlook looks okay, too.

The average high during the month was 69 degrees, about 1 degree above normal, while the average low was 43, which was about 1 degree below normal. That left the high-low average temperature for the month at 55.8 degrees, which was precisely on the climatological norm; 55.8 degrees. How ’bout that? Our warmest temperature was 81 on Nov. 15 and 16, while coldest temperatures were 31 on the 18th and 27 on the 19th of the month.

Rainfall was 1.74 inches, slightly below 1.99″, the historical norm for November rainfall. While that was near normal, most of it fell early in the month. Denton recorded .56″ on Nov. 2nd, .67″ on the 3rd and another .51″ on Nov. 10th, but nothing else since then as of press time. So far this year, Denton Enterprise has recorded 29.94 inches of rain, roughly 2 inches below normal. At this writing (Nov. 22), we were expecting some rain around Thanksgiving.

Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall for December. With cooler water in the equatorial Pacific due to La Niña, storm development is weak underneath the sub-tropical jet stream. Subsequently, fewer storms are riding the southern jet stream across Mexico into Texas right now.

The overall winter outlook for Texas looks the same through February; warmer and drier than normal. That’s not to say we don’t expect some arctic cold snaps and the threat of wintry precipitation. Despite last February’s crippling deep-freeze, (2-6 degrees below zero), the overall winter of 2021 didn’t even make a Top-10 list. A “normal” winter includes an average of 3 snow days per season (when frozen precipitation is at least detected). It also includes a few rounds of severe weather.

A warm, dry winter outlook has no serious consequences here and now, but if the trend continues, the danger from late-winter and early-spring wildfires could become a serious matter. While California’s wildfire season is in late summer (September) due to warm weather and the Santa Ana winds, North Texas is more vulnerable to fires spread by gusty winds through dormant, winter-killed vegetation. We’ll want to keep an eye on lake levels and soil moisture in the months ahead.

Slightly off-topic, but with the holiday gatherings upon us, a friendly reminder to stay as healthy as possible by washing your hands frequently, staying home if you’re sick, taking the proper vaccines and precautions recommended by your doctor. Neither Flu vaccines nor COVID vaccines are 100% effective. Common sense and care for “the other guy” will go a long way this winter.

Brad Bartonhttp://www.wbap.com/weather-forecast/
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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