Everywhere Covites went the last few weeks — from the grocery store to dinner to the kid’s athletic games — the conversation eventually led to the unusually cold weather that lingered over the region this year.
Residents said cold snaps never stick around this long, and it was an unbelievable chill that felt like the coldest winter ever.
However, according to the National Weather Service in the Dallas/Forth Worth region, which monitors weather patterns in this area, it was far from it — that record was set Jan. 31, 1949, when temperatures dropped to minus 5 degrees.
This year did manage to make it to top lists for cold weather though, said Mark Fox, a warning and coordination meteorologist at NWS. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year ranked No. 1 for the greatest number of freezes by season with a total of 68; No. 2 occurred in the 1909-1910 season with 51.
“The cold usually comes 4 to 5 degrees cooler,” Fox said. “But this season it was approximately 10-20 degrees colder. It’s because we’re stuck in a neutral pattern of El Nino.”
Cold air coming out of Canada and over the Rocky Mountains usually travels to the East Coast but not this year, Fox said.
In part, what caused the weird weather was the fact that Texas was caught in between two jet streams, said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M professor and state climatologist. Warm air moved over the Gulf of Mexico and the cold came from the north, and a ridge formed in one area and a trough in the other. This is the seventh coldest March in history, he said.
As for how spring and summer are shaping up thus far, Fox doesn’t expect the weather to be extreme.
“Usually a warm dry winter means record highs in summer,” he said. “It’s not going to be the record-breaking summer of 2011 where we had 60 straight days of 100-degree weather. These weather patterns occur every now and then and usually in 20-year cycles. We were due for a chill, but it’s behind us now.”
Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro | Herald