Its hard to believe that this year is coming in an end. I don't know about you, but it seemed to whiz by. And what a year it was with big extremes, debunking the myth that Houston weather is just about heat and humidity. We started the year with drought which was quickly erased in April, but returned in time for a stifling hot summer that rivaled the record year of 1980. The weather pattern finally changed late in September to usher in a series of heavy rain events for October. Then, we ended the year with an event that no one could imagine - our earliest snowfall ever. I decided to rank the top 10 stories for the year in this order:
10. August 30 Galveston waterspout. This happened late on a Sunday night and I remember getting a text message saying that the weather service had issued a tornado warning for Galveston county. I thought it was a mistake until I saw some grainy pictures and eyewitness accounts of a fast-moving thin tube which emerged from the Gulf and then did some minor damage in the island.
9. June Heatwave. We had seven days with highs over 100° and twice we hit 104° setting a record for the hottest June days ever on the 24th and the 26th.
8. Summer Drought. Our dreadfully dry June and July left us with only 5.22" inches for the period, making it the 5th driest on record. Farmers were in distress beseeching the sky for a change on a daily basis to no avail.
7. No tropical activity. Thanks to El Niño, we didn't see any tropical storms or hurricanes threaten the Texas Gulf coast. In fact, it was a very quiet season in the Tropical Atlantic with only 9 named storms, 3 hurricanes and two of those were category 3 or higher. The season started late and didn't really get interesting until Ida developed in early November causing a stir in the Florida panhandle.
6. Nice November. After Ida was out of the picture, we enjoyed some really delightful days in November. In fact, we had a string of near perfect weather for the first two weeks. I gave out the coveted Norman Number 10 ten times that month, the most for any month this year.
5. Cleveland tornado - March 27. I really don't like to interrupt Oprah, but I had to several times that day as a tornado races from eastern Montgomery County into the small Liberty County town of Cleveland. While it wasn't a particularly strong tornado, the storm producing it delivered baseball-sized hail. It was part of a line of storms that developed that day that also dropped large hail across Houston.
4. April 28th Floods. This was the culmination of several days of heavy rains and it happened at the worst possible time - overnight. The rain just kept coming down that Tuesday morning in many west and northwest Houston suburbs like Katy, Jersey Village and Memorial West. Our HD Doppler radar estimated from 7 to 10 inches drenched the area.
3. Wet October - It rained half of the days that month for a total of 13.16", the fifth wettest on record. A sure sign of the influence of the El Niño weather pattern as an abundant sub tropical jet stream sent moisture our way. Additionally, low pressure systems kept forming in the southern Gulf, then sliding up the coast.
2. Hot Summer. We came this close to breaking the 1980 record for hottest June and July. The average temperature for this summer as 86.39, while 1980's average was 86.40. Any way you slice it, it was unbearable. But I think most people would take heat over hurricanes. We started a fun take on the heat by asking you to complete the sentence - "it's so hot..." We'll bring it back in 2010 if we're back in the frying pan.
1. Earliest Snowfall - Dec. 4. Even as I forecast this Friday event the preceding Monday, I was a bit skeptical. However, with each successive computer model run, the signs were clear. A blast of cold air was to arrive as moisture surged from the south on the pesky sub-tropical jet stream. I could hardly sleep that Thursday night as I awaited the first flake. While both Hobby and Bush tallied 1 inch totals, up to 4 inches of the white stuff fell in Wharton and Matagorda counties and 2 to 3 inches in Sugar Land and Pearland. Go figure, there was more to the south than to the north.
2010 begins cold and I doubt we've seen the last of winter precipitation. Cold surges from Canada continue to come down into Texas and that sub-tropical jet stream is still active. When the two get together in just the right way, watch out. I hope that your 2010 is a better and brighter year than ever. Happy New Year!
Here's a link to the National Weather Service's memorable weather events over the past 10 years: 220.127.116.11/Weather/pnshgxtx.htm