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Texas climate: hottest December since 1889

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Texas climate: hottest December since 1889

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The ongoing La Niña situations have introduced hot, dry weather and exacerbated drought situations throughout the state.

TEXAS, United States – Texas experienced its hottest December since 1889, with an average daily temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the state’s climatologist. That’s about 12 levels hotter than the common December month in Texas throughout the twentieth century.

The earlier fashionable document was drawn up in December 1933, when the common temperature was 53.3 levels. The all-weather document in December 1889 was about three-tenths warmer than last month, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said, adding that local weather measurements in the late 19th century were much less accurate. than today.

“So we don’t really know what the average temperature was [in 1889] by modern standards, but from what we can tell it was pretty similar back then, ”he said.

Winter heat worsened a growing drought: As of Jan.4, about 80% of the state was in at least reasonable drought, while about 55% of the state was in extreme drought, according to the US Drought Monitor.

The heat and lack of rain matches a local meteorological sample from La Niña, said Dev Niyogi, professor of local meteorology at the University of Texas. La Niña, part of a pure Pacific Ocean cycle known as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, occurs every three to five years and has an impact on the international climate, Niyogi said.

In the United States, La Niña sometimes brings a freezing and stormy north and a dry, scorching south, he mentioned.

“The last time we had a strong La Niña was when we experienced the drought in 2012,” Niyogi said.

The Texas Panhandle took most of the heat, with about half of the space in excessive drought throughout December. Forest fires raged in Panhandle last month, and an entire town was evacuated in the wake of the fires. Residents of Skellytown had to leave for a few days while firefighters worked to contain a 15,000-acre blaze.

“Usually the winters are pretty calm, but we’ve had a pretty wet summer so there’s a lot of dry grass,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “And when we get strong wind conditions like we experienced in mid-December, forest fires can result.”

Besides the fires, another impression of the sustained heat is water stress and low crop yields, Niyogi said. The Panhandle had one of its worst winter wheat harvests since the 2012 drought, he said.

“Places like Amarillo haven’t had any rain for the past three months,” Niyogi said. “They had a record of almost, I believe, 90 days without any trace of rain. We are therefore clearly experiencing water stress and higher energy demand.

Relative heat can even trigger intense thunderstorms like the ones that swept through parts of Texas on Friday and Saturday, he said.

Despite warmer winter temperatures, Nielsen-Gammon said it was still essential to plan for potential winter storms like the one that hit the state last February, cutting power to hundreds of thousands. Texans and many deaths.

“Despite La Niña’s tendency to increase average temperatures, historically we have seen a greater frequency of extreme cold during weak La Niña years or neutral years that kind of lean towards La Niña,” Nielsen-Gammon said. . “You just have to go back to last February to see an example. Last year was also a La Niña year, and average winter temperatures were going to be above normal with the exception of the mid-February 15 days. “

This story originally appeared on TexasTribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, non-partisan media group that educates Texans – and engages with them – about statewide public coverage, politics, authorities and issues.

Texas climate: hottest December since 1889

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