Friday, December 8, 2023

Extreme heat, lack of rain make for miserable month

There’s little to say about July in North Texas that you don’t already know. It’s hot and exceptionally dry, and likely to stay that way for another few weeks, maybe months.

This past July might be the hottest and driest since reliable records were kept in Denton in the mid 70’s. Denton Enterprise Airport recorded two consecutive days (19th & 20th) at 111 and no overnight lows below 70 degrees.

And the extremes don’t begin to tell the whole story. The average daily high during July was nearly 103, seven degrees above the normal average high of 95.6. The average low of 78 was five degrees warmer than the climatological average of 73. The day-night average temperature for July was 90.5, six degrees above the normal of 84.4. Power bills? Fahgettaboudit.

Despite a smattering of isolated thunderstorms over Lantana, Copper Canyon, Lewisville Lake and other parts of Denton County the last weekend of July, Denton Enterprise Airport has recorded no measurable precipitation since June 3rd. Total precipitation in June was a mere .26”. Traces of rain fell on July 3rd, 20th, 21st and the 29th, but not enough to measure.

Since December of 2021, little more than a foot of rain, (12.05”) has been recorded at the airport, most of it (9”) falling in April and May.

Thanks to heavier rains flowing down the Red River from Oklahoma, area lakes are not terribly low yet, but the draw-down from North Texas reservoirs is accelerating. Some have recently dropped to 60% capacity.

As of July 30th, DFW Airport had gone 58 days without measurable rainfall, which now ranks as the 2nd longest rain-free streak since local records were kept starting in the 1880’s.

The cause of our heat and drought is the familiar sub-tropical high-pressure zone that has been shifting from west to east and back again across the southern third of the continental United States. Such weather systems not only produce a downward motion in the airmass, warming the air at 3 degrees per thousand feet, but also force the normal west-to-east storm tracks north of Texas, evidenced by flooding rains in Oklahoma, Missouri and especially Kentucky.

In a rare “Drought Information Statement,” the National Weather Service notes, “North and Central Texas have averaged below normal precipitation since fall of 2021. Most of the area is now listed in “extreme” to “exceptional” drought. August is among the driest months of the year…and outlooks continue to favor below normal precipitation the reminder of 2022,” even during the normally wetter months of September and October.

Foundations are more important to water than shrubs, which are replaceable. Keep dry vegetation as short as possible to prevent the spread of grass fires when possible. Do everything possible to minimize the risk of fire and together, we’ll survive this.

Brad Barton
Brad Barton
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 and 570 KLIF. His video weather podcast is posted to and Facebook around noon every Thursday. You can follow Brad on Twitter @BradBartonDFW

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