West Texas high pressure system brings record heat

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Associated Press

Posted on March 17, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 17 at 12:32 PM

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The West Texas cities of Dalhart, Amarillo and Lubbock posted record high temperatures for the Ides of March, forecasters said Saturday.

Friday's temperature in Lubbock reached 88 degrees, breaking the March 15, 1966, record of 86 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Aldrich said.

Meanwhile, thermometers peaked at 85 degrees in Amarillo, which was 1 degree hotter than last year's record, and 84 degrees in Dalhart, which topped last year's record high of 81 degrees.

Just less than three weeks ago, parts of West Texas were digging out from record snowfalls from a blizzard that blanketed the region.

"That's springtime in the Panhandle," NWS meteorologist Lance Goehring in Amarillo said about the weather swings. "That's usually the way it is."

Although the snow in late February brought badly needed moisture, the region is still mired in drought and West Texas still has pockets of exceptional drought, the most severe classification bestowed by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The forecast for the rest of March calls for an increased chance of below normal rainfall west of a line from Victoria to Wichita Falls.

It's too early to say whether Texas is in for another bad drought year, forecasters say. Texas' driest year ever was 2011, when a La Nina pattern kept rains away while triple-digit temperatures baked the land and windy conditions sucked whatever moisture remained in the soil.

The state's wildfire threat is also greatest in the western part of the state and in deep South Texas, which is also in exceptional drought. On Saturday parts of Far West Texas were showing extreme fire danger.

No serious wildfires have been reported statewide this year.

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