Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

The Year in Texas Weather (Yes, it was Awful)

Photo by Flickr user Bert Kaufmann/Creative Commons

It has been one of the worst year's of weather in Texas on record.

Texas has seen a week of rains, freezes and even snow. It’s strange to think back to this summer and the record heat and drought when it feels like we’re living in Illinois right now. (In fact, as of Tuesday, Texas had more snow than Chicago so far this winter.) Some new numbers out this week show just how bad this year has been for weather in Texas and the rest of the country:

  • 1 Million+: That’s how many acres of land burned in Texas this year, a record for wildfires. The number made the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) list of “Extreme Weather 2011.”
  • 86.7: That’s the average temperature for Texas this summer, from June through August. While it sounds pretty nice, it’s the average temperature. That means all of the lows in the dead of night while you were sleeping in air-conditioningĀ averaged out with the record highs during the afternoon while you were foolishly trying to plant tomatoes for the fall.
  • 86.9: That’s the average temperature for Oklahoma this summer. Oklahoma beats Texas! But Texas did have the hottest June and hottest August, according to state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
  • 90: The number of days over 100 degrees in Austin this summer, 27 of them consecutive. Dallas had 71 (40 of them consecutive) and Houston had a record number of days over 100 degrees as well.
  • -7.97: That’s the value of the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) for Texas in September, according to NOAA. It means that this drought is the “most intense” one to hit the state over the last 117 years.
  • Under one inch: How much rain some weather stations in Texas have recorded so far this year. “The statewide record for least rainfall in a calendar year is 1.64ā€³ in Presidio in 1956,” the state climatologist says on his blog.
  • 12: The record number of billion-dollar disasters that have happened this year, with the total amount of damage estimated to be $52 billion, according to NOAA’s latest report. $5.3 billion (and counting) of that is from the Texas drought, and another billion in losses from widlfires.
  • Also 12: How much rain fell (in inches) in Texas from January to November, a record dry spell. That’s fourteen inches below the average.
  • 2.5 Degrees Fahrenheit: That’s howĀ high temperatures were above averageĀ in Texas for January-November of this year, a record also found in the NOAA report.

So is there any good news? Yes and no. NOAA says that in November, “the severity of drought conditions lessened across northern Texas, where near-normal precipitation was observed for the month.” But the state climatologist says thatĀ “even with normal rainfall in December (which would make December the wettest month since January 2011), weā€™re on track to have the driest calendar year ever.”


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