2006 Weather Year in Review

The National Weather Service in Amarillo has compiled a summary of notable weather records and events for the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles for 2006. Included in this release are all the monthly statistics, records, and weather highlights for 2006.

2006 started off very dry continuing the drought which began in August 2005. Dry and windy conditions and dormant vegetation across the panhandles lead to record wildfires during the winter and spring months. The strong winds resulted in rapid fire spread and extremely dangerous situations which lead to several fatalities. Severe weather season got rolling in April, but the panhandles witnessed no tornadoes until June. July and August rains brought the yearly precipitation average back to normal in some areas of the Panhandles, but the hydrologic drought continued as area reservoirs remain well below normal. Winter weather was essentially absent in January, February, and March, but returned to the panhandles in late November and again in mid December when winter storms brought heavy snow and freezing rain.

YEAR 2006 SUMMARY

High for the year: 102°, June 5th
Low for the year: 4°, February 18th
Average High Temperature: 72.1° (1.8° above normal)
Average Low Temperature: 44.3° (0.7° above normal)
Average Annual Temperature: 58.2° (1.3° above normal)
Annual precipitation: 21.88 (2.17 above normal)
Annual snowfall: 10.1 (5.50 below normal)
100 or > degree day: 2

 

JANUARY
Hi – 79°, 7th
Low – 15°, 10th
Average – 42.7° (6.9° above normal)
Precip – 0.03
Snowfall – 0.3
Records – Tied daily record high of 79° on the 7th
Interesting Facts – 7th warmest January on Record, 15th driest

A very warm and dry January led to a relative lack of winter weather and began the extremely active fire season. In the first week of January, wild fires burned nearly 14,000 acres of land in the Oklahoma Panhandle, and over 26,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle. The fires were a result of dry air and strong winds that ranged from 35 to 55 mph.

 

FEBRUARY
Hi – 83°, 28th
Low – 4°, 18th
Average – 39.3° (1.3° below normal)
Precip – 0.05
Snowfall – T
Interesting Facts – 11th driest on record

Another dry and windy month led to more wild fires. In the first half of the month, over 11,000 acres were burned in the Texas Panhandle. Near the end of the month, another wildfire burned 1,000 acres in Potter County.


MARCH

Hi – 82°, 1st: 7th
Low – 19°, 22nd
Average – 48.2° (0.3° above normal)
Precip – 1.56
Snowfall – 0.9

March was by far the worst month for wildfires. In fact, the largest wildfire in Texas history occurred between the 12th and 18th of the month. Two separate fires merged into what became known as the East Amarillo Complex which burned parts of Hutchinson, Gray, Roberts, and Hemphill counties. Both fires started when power lines were knocked down by strong winds. When the fires were finally extinguished, nearly 1,000,000 acres of land were burned including over 100 structures, 80 vehicles, and 7 miles of fence line. Unfortunately, 12 people were killed as a result of the wildfires including 1 fire fighter. Once again, the culprit that triggered the fires was very strong winds, dry air, and dormant grasses. In addition to the East Amarillo Complex wildfire, a 7,000 acre fire burned in the Oklahoma Panhandle with 16 separate wildfires occurring in the Texas Panhandle burning over 34,000 acres.

In addition to the wildfires, a winter storm dumped up to 6 inches of snow across the Oklahoma and northern Texas Panhandles on the 20th of the month.

 

APRIL
Hi – 93° 23rd
Low – 31° 26th
Average – 60.7° (4.5° above normal)
Precip – 0.23
Snowfall – 0
Records – Tied daily record highs of 90° on the 13th, 91° on the 14th, and 93° on the 23rd
Interesting Facts – 12th warmest April on record, 10th driest

Severe weather season got started off in early April. On the 1st, a storm moved across the Oklahoma Panhandle producing hail up to 1.75 inches and wind gusts near 60 mph. Also on the 1st, storms moved across the northern Texas Panhandle producing hail up to 1.50 inches in diameter. The severe weather was short lived though as wildfires once again became the main story for April. Fires spurred by high winds occurred in the Oklahoma Panhandle on the 2nd burning 600 acres of land. In the Texas Panhandle, 18 wildfires raged mainly in the first half of the month consumed over 100,000 acres and destroyed 23 homes.

Near the end of the month, a second round of severe weather developed. Storms on the 22nd,23rd, and 28th occurred in the Texas Panhandle producing hail up to 1.75 inches. A severe storm also occurred in the Oklahoma Panhandle on the 28th producing hail up to 1 inch in diameter.

 

MAY
Hi – 98° 20th
Low – 42° 11th
Average – 69.3° (4.1° above normal)
Precip – 1.26
Snowfall – 0.0
Tornadoes - 0
Interesting Facts – 6th warmest May on record

A very warm May led to more wildfires, plenty of severe thunderstorms, but surprisingly no tornadoes. The severe weather for May began on the 2nd when a storm producing 1 inch sized hail moved through Beaver County in Oklahoma. Storms also moved across the southeast portion of the Texas Panhandle producing baseball sized hail. There were 2 especially active severe weather days in May. The first was on the 9th when multiple storms moved across the eastern panhandles. There were 28 reports of severe hail in total including one report of hail up to the size of a softball. The second active day in May was on the 30th. There were 16 reports of severe weather across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles with most of the activity located in the central Texas Panhandle. Wind speeds reached over 65 mph and hail stones increased to 1.75 inches. Heavy rains caused a flash flood in Carson County. In addition, thirteen wildfires occurred in May burning 44,000 acres and causing 4 injuries.

 

JUNE
Hi – 102° 5th
Low – 53° 17th
Average – 76.6° (2.3° above normal)
Precip – 1.02
Tornadoes – 11

The lack of tornadoes in May quickly changed in June. Eleven tornadoes were reported with strongest rating as an F1 on June 21st in Texas County, Oklahoma (the other 10 tornadoes were all rated F0). The F1 tornado caused damage to 3 barns, three homes, and a pickup truck with a trailer attached. Aside from the tornadoes, strong thunderstorm winds occurred numerous times during June. The strongest winds blew on June 16th when thunderstorms produced wind speeds of 70 mph. In fact, June 16th was one of the most active severe weather days of the year. There were 2 reports of severe thunderstorms in the Oklahoma Panhandle on the 16th, with 35 severe reports throughout the Texas Panhandle. Most of the severe weather was related to very strong winds, but storms also produced tennis ball sized hail in Gray County, Texas. Also on the 16th, 4 wildfires raged across the west Texas Panhandle. These 4 wildfires burned over 30,000 acres and caused 15 million dollars in damage.
The worst back-to-back severe weather days of the year occurred on the 21st and 22nd of June. The 2 day total included 26 reports of severe weather in the Oklahoma Panhandle and 47 reports across the Texas Panhandle. Of the 73 incidents of severe weather, most were once again due to strong winds some in excess of 60 mph. However, golf ball sized hail and one flash flood resulted from heavy rain in Hartley County, Texas. Plus, 9 of the 11 tornadoes that occurred in June came either on the 21st or 22nd of the month.

 

July
Hi – 100° 13th
Low – 60° 22nd
Average – 78.2° (exactly normal)
Precip – 4.40
Tornadoes – 1

The severe weather relaxed a bit in July, although an F0 tornado did occurred in Deaf Smith County, Texas on the 28th of the month. Otherwise, there were only 5 additional reports of severe weather in July. There was one lightning strike which hit a Junior High school in Guymon, Oklahoma causing damage to air conditioning system.

 

AUGUST
Hi – 95° 10th
Low – 54° 29th
Average – 74.6° (1.7° below normal)
Precip – 6.67
Tornadoes – 1
Interesting Facts – 4th wettest August on record. Wettest month of the year.

Above average rains in August brought flash flooding to the panhandles. Flash flooding occurred on the 14th, 20th, and 21st of the month. The worst situation took place on the 21st when flash flooding resulted in the death of a young man in Amarillo. In addition, numerous campers became stranded in Palo Duro Canyon between the 20th and 21st of the month as water levels blocked exit roads. Aside from the flash flooding, there were 28 severe weather incidents including one F0 tornado on the 27th in Hutchinson County, Texas.

 

SEPTEMBER
Hi – 88°, 16th:30th
Low – 41°, 18th
Average – 64.3° (4.8° below normal)
Precip – 1.10
Interesting Facts – 2nd coldest September on record.

Severe weather dropped off in September. However, a few thunderstorms did reach severe levels mainly during the middle part of the month. Hail up to the size of golf balls was reported on the 15th in Beaver County, Oklahoma and flash floods occurred in Hutchinson and Carson Counties, Texas on the 7th of the month.

 

OCTOBER
Hi – 92°, 2nd
Low – 27°, 31st
Average – 57.9° (0.3 below normal)
Precip – 2.71

October was the quietest month of the year with near normal temperatures and slightly above normal precipitation. No severe weather occurred in October.

 

NOVEMBER
Hi – 85°, 8th
Low – 10°, 30th
Average – 48.8° (3.7° above normal)
Precip – 0.37
Snowfall – 7.2
Records – Set daily record low of 10° on the 30th

November brought the first snow of the year, strong winds, and more wildfires. Non-thunderstorm winds blew across the panhandles on the 14th and 15th of the month reaching speeds near 70 mph in some cases. Three wildfires occurred across the panhandles on the 20th, 21st and 28th of November burning 5800 acres and injuring one fire fighter. At the end of the month, a winter storm dumped snow over the entire panhandles with up to 8 inches of snow pilling up in parts of Amarillo. Strong winds along with the snowfall produced near blizzard conditions in parts of the panhandles.

 

DECEMBER
Hi – 75°, 16th
Low – 10°, 1st
Average – 38.1° (1.1° above normal)
Precip – 2.48
Snowfall – 1.7
Records – Set daily record highs of 75° on the 16th, and 72° on the 27th
Interesting Facts – 6th wettest December on record

December brought a variety of weather to the panhandles. The month started off cold, but dry, with a low temperature of 10° on the 1st. This was followed by 3 more days of low temperatures of 20° or below. However, by mid December, temperatures began to increase and finally peaked on the 16th when a new daily record high temperature of 75° was set. Unfortunately, the warm December temperatures did not last. Three days after the 16th, a winter storm hit the panhandles bringing freezing rain, sleet and snow. Initially, the freezing rain coated parts of the panhandles with up to 1 inch of ice, followed by as much as 5 inches of snow in some locations. This made for difficult driving conditions and left thousands of panhandle residents without power for a few days. Once again though, the cold air exited the panhandles and within a week another daily record high temperature was set when the thermometer hit 72° on the 27th.

Just two days later, a second winter storm hit the panhandle on the 29th. Up to 18 inches of snow fell in parts of the northwest Texas and western Oklahoma Panhandles. The combination of very strong winds and low visibilities resulted in blizzard conditions in these areas and caused snow drifts of 4 to 6 feet! Across the rest of the panhandles, a mix of freezing rain, freezing drizzle and rain showers coated most of the region in a sheet of ice. Many residents once again lost power and road closures with stranded motorists were common in the western panhandles. The addition of 1.28 inches of precipitation in the last 4 days of the month helped this December to become the 6th wettest December on record.


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