Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

2012 Set to Break Record for Highest Average Temperature in Texas History


Record hot days in December. Should we be happy or worried?

Many people who lived through the hot Texas summer of 2011 remember it with something approaching shell shock. The weeks upon weeks of 100-degree heat, the drought that crippled agriculture and contributed to widespread wildfires. Nothing, it seemed, could ever approach such a summer again.

But that doesn’t mean the state isn’t breaking heat records again this year.

Earlier this fall 2012 was projected to be Texas’ fourth hottest year on record when it comes to average temperature. That surprised many of our readers, and it’s no wonder.  After 2011, this year seemed like a welcome relief. But, if you take average temperatures from the entire year, it now turns out 2012 won’t likely be the fourth hottest year.

It will likely be the hottest year, on average, in Texas history.

According to State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, the current record-holding year is 1921, with an average temperature of 67.5 degrees.  He estimates this year to end with an average of 67.6 degrees, squeaking by that record.  And a lot of that has to do with the non-summer months.

This summer saw its fair share of 100-degree days. But it was a warm spring and winter that significantly raised the average temperatures, says Neilsen Gammon. Then came the warmer-than-usual December to further bump up the average statewide.

“Well, with the warmth we’ve enjoyed, or not, so far this December, we’re actually on track to set the record for warmest year ever,” Nielsen-Gammon told StateImpact Texas. ”December is currently running 8 degrees above normal statewide.”

Though an incoming cold front is expected to lower December’s average temperature, Nielsen-Gammon expects this month will still be 5.4 degrees above normal by New Year’s Eve.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »