Warmest January Ever

January 31, 2006 at 12:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It looks like this will wind up being our warmest January ever. With one day left in the month, our average daily high temperature this month has been 68.2 degrees, almost 2 degrees above the previous record (66.4 degrees, in 1923). And we have only had one freeze the entire month of January. That is also a record for the fewest number of freezes.

Those very warm temperatures have resulted partially from a lack of arctic cold fronts surging southward across the country. Except for a week in early December, the arctic air has remained bottled up in northern Canada and Alaska all winter. Earlier Monday morning, the temperature in parts of Alaska dropped to minus 45 degrees! So there is plenty of cold air. It is just not moving south as cold fronts into Texas and on into the Gulf of Mexico. And because of that lack of cold outbreaks, the sea-surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbeanb Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean have remained abnormally warm. We actually had a tropical storm that persisted from late December into early January; only the second time in history that has ever happened. And with so few arctic outbreaks penetrating into the Gulf, it seems likely that the water temperatures in the Gulf will remain warmer than normal thoughout the winter and spring. That should lead to water temperatures reaching the requisite 80 degrees earlier than usual, which, in turn could mean an early start to the next hurricane season.

WHERE ARE THE FIRES?

January 13, 2006 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two websites are offering wildfire information.
Click on http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/ for locations of wildfires and http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/enhanced.php for satellite imagery of smoke.

Driest Year Ever?

January 7, 2006 at 2:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In all of 2005, DFW Airport received only 18.97″ of rain. That made 2005 the 5th driest year we have ever experienced here in north Texas. But a closer look at the records shows that the drought is even worse than it appears.

The first 5 days of January 2005 were very wet. It rained 4 of the 5 days, with a total of 2.63″. But then it was as if the tap were turned off. In the past 365 days, from January 7, 2005 through January 6, 2006, our total rainfall has been a paltry 16.34″.

The driest year we have ever experienced (measured from January 1 through December 31) was 1921, when we totalled only 17.91″. But the past 365 days are easily much drier than that. It doesn’t go into the record books, because it didn’t start on January 1st, but the past year’s rainfall was one and a half inches less than the driest year in our history. And even worse, it doesn’t appear as if we have any hope for rain any time soon.

One of the main reasons it has been so warm this fall and early winter, is that we have had such little rain. Virtually every day, it has been sunny. And all that sun-baked earth gets very warm. Long-range forecasts issued earlier in the fall included north Texas in an above average rainfall pattern for this winter. But in December, the new outlooks were published, and they no longer show above average rainfall for our area in the coming months. And that is especially bad news considering the current situation. Just look at these rainfall reports from around our region:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/fwd/CLIMO/drought/drought05.html

The last map from that link shows that the drought is expected to persist, or even intensify, through March… not good news at all.

As for the cause, it seems to be pure bad luck more than anything else. Many other parts of Texas have had average, or even above average rainfall this year. So the state-wide drought in progress is not nearly as severe as it is here in our area. The rains just seem to miss us each time. Take a look at this drought map for Texas:

http://webgis.tamu.edu/tfs/kbdi_daily/kbdicounty.png

Some viewers have asked if this dry weather pattern has been caused by El Nino. But the global climate over the past year has been relatively neutral… neither an El Nino nor a La Nina. Here is a link with more information:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/

I wish we did have a developing El Nino. That always means mild wet winters for north Texas. But there is no sign of that happening at this time.

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