2008 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 2008. Included in this release are all the monthly statistics, records, and weather highlights for 2008. Also included is a graph depicting the daily temperatures for 2008. Click HERE to view this graph.

2008 started off warm and dry. Every month from January through June received above average temperatures while January, March, April and May all observed below average precipitation. Snowfall totals were also down this year with March coming in with the most observed snow. The dry pattern continued during the spring providing a much less active severe weather season than the Panhandles witnessed in 2007. Spring storm systems brought more wind than rain, leaving much of the area in a drought. There were still a few significant severe weather events, but the total number of tornados for the year was 12. This is about 50 fewer tornados than we observed across the Panhandles in 2007. The warm and windy conditions combined with the ongoing drought to produce a few wildfires. Fortunately, most of the injuries reported as a result of the wildfires were minor.

The hottest period occurred in the early to middle part of June when temperatures routinely topped 100 degrees in many parts of the High Plains. The dry and abnormally hot trend finally began to erode in mid June when thunderstorm activity increased. The remnants of a few tropical systems then impacted the Panhandle in July and August providing abundant rainfall which resulted in flooding in some areas. The wet pattern continued through September and October with cooler than average temperatures as well. In fact, the five month period from June through October was the 9th wettest summer and early fall on record for Amarillo. This moist air helped alleviate some of the drought conditions occurring across the Panhandles especially across the western Oklahoma Panhandle where a severe drought was in place.
Unfortunately, the moist pattern eroded in November and December leading to a return of the dry and warmer than normal conditions. Only 6 tenths of an inch of snow fell during these two months which brought the annual snow total to 7.0 inches. This is nearly 11 inches below normal.

YEAR 2008 SUMMARY FOR AMARILLO
High for the year: 106°, June 2nd
Low for the year: 6°, December 21st
Average High Temperature: 72.2° (2.0° above normal)
Average Low Temperature: 43.4° (0.2° below normal)
Average Annual Temperature: 57.8° (0.8 above normal)
Annual precipitation: 22.44 inches (2.79 inches above normal)
Annual snowfall: 7.1 inches (10.8 inches below normal)
100 or > degree day: 6

January
Hi: 73°, 26th
Low: 8°, 17th
Average: 37.8° (2.0° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.24 inches (0.39 inches below normal)
Snowfall: 2.7 inches
Records: Set daily record warmest minimum temperature of 46° on January 6th.

Drought conditions across much of the Panhandles combined with the unseasonably warm and dry air to create a favorable environment for wildfires. The largest wildfire occurred on January 27th in Beaver County near the town of Slapout. Over 10,000 acres were burned. This brought the total area burned in the month of January to just over 19,000 acres. Aside from the wildfires, one winter weather event impacted the Panhandles, and specifically the city of Amarillo, on January 31st. Only two to three inches of snow fell on the 31st, but the snow combined with strong winds to create near zero visibility and slick roads. This resulted in a 42 car accident along Interstate 40. The large pileup caused one fatality and multiple injuries.

February
Hi: 76°, 24th
Low: 12°, 6th
Average: 41.8° (1.2° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.59 inches (0.04 inches above normal)
Snowfall: 0.3 inches

Wildfires were again the main story in February and ongoing drought conditions persisted across the Panhandles. Wildfires scorched another 8,000 acres in February but fortunately there were no reports of injuries or fatalities relating to the fires. On February 5th, winter weather impacted the Panhandles creating slick roads and limited visibilities. A car accident relating to the winter weather resulted in five fatalities.

March
Hi: 81°, 25th
Low: 18°, 4th
Average: 48.2° (0.3° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.30 inches (0.83 inches below normal)
Snowfall: 3.5 inches

The most notable weather event in March was a potent winter storm which affected the region on March 2nd-3rd. The high temperature in Amarillo on March 2 was 74 degrees, but a strong cold front quickly dropped temperatures during the afternoon. Within a few hours the snow began. Though snowfall accumulations with this storm were relatively light, the snow combined with strong north winds in excess of 50 mph to produce near-blizzard conditions during the overnight hours. However, this winter storm was not enough to overcome the ongoing drought conditions. Wildfires again impacted the Panhandles burning nearly 10,000 acres. Another interesting fact from March was the complete lack of severe weather. There were no reports of hail, thunderstorm winds, or tornados in March. This is in stark contrast from the record tornado and severe weather outbreaks of March 2007.

April
Hi: 91°, 30th
Low: 27°, 18th
Average: 56.6° (0.4° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.38 inches (0.95 inches below normal)
Tornados: 1 EF0 tornado.

The first tornado of the year developed in April. The tornado briefly touched down on April 26th near the town of Perryton resulting in no injuries or damage. There were a few severe thunderstorms in April but the strongest storm only produced hail stones up to the size of ping pong balls. A strong dust devil formed on April 3rd in eastern Amarillo. This dust devil moved near the Clements Prison Unit and blew out the windows in several cars.

May
Hi: 97°, 30th
Low: 32°, 3rd
Average: 66.3° (1.1° above normal)
Precipitation: 2.08 inches (0.42 inches below normal)
Tornados: 6 EF0 Tornados

As usual, the number of severe storms increased in May but there were still fewer than normal severe weather events due to the persistent dry conditions. In fact, severe thunderstorms were only observed on six days in May. Six tornados touched down in May, all of which were rated as EF0’s and produced no damage or injuries. The two most active severe weather days in May were the 25th and 26th. May 25th was characterized more by the strong winds than hail. Thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 60 and 70 mph were common across the Panhandles along with 4 of the 6 May tornados. May 26th witnessed the other 2 tornados along with a number of baseball size hail reports mostly confined to the southern Texas Panhandle.


June
Hi: 106°, 2nd
Low: 53°, 6th
Average: 77.2° (2.9° above normal)
Precipitation: 4.03 inches (0.75 inches above normal)
Tornados: 5 tornados (1 EF2, 4 EF0)
Records: Set daily record maximum temperatures of 106° on June 2nd and 102° on June 11th. Tied the daily record maximum temperature of 101° on June 3rd and 100° on June 4th. Tied the record warmest low temperature of 69° on June 2nd and 70° on June 3rd.

Warm air remained in place through most of June providing above normal average temperatures. Further, Amarillo witnessed record setting high temperatures on the 2nd and 11th, while record tying high temperatures occurred on the 3rd and 4th. However, the dry pattern finally began to erode for most of the Panhandles leading to above normal precipitation for the month in Amarillo. Unfortunately, the drier conditions remained across the Oklahoma Panhandle which combined with the hot temperatures to create prime wildfire conditions. A large wildfire of over 5,000 acres burned in Texas County near the town of Guymon. Firefighters from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas all responded to this fire.
Severe weather increased again in June bringing five more tornados. The strongest tornado of the year formed in Beaver County on the 18th and was rated as an EF2. The tornado knocked down thirty-five power lines and caused extensive damage to a large metal barn and a semi truck. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities resulted from this tornado.

A severe thunderstorm developed north of Amarillo on the 19th in the early afternoon hours. The storm moved south toward the eastern side of Amarillo. Strong winds were forced out of this storm hitting the National Weather Service office and the Rick Husband International Airport. An 81 mph wind gust resulted from this storm which was the 2nd highest wind gust ever recorded in Amarillo. The highest wind gust ever recorded in Amarillo was 84 mph and resulted from a nearby tornado on May 15th, 1949.

The increase in moisture and thunderstorms also led to flash flooding across portions of the Panhandles. Flash floods were reported on the 8th in Hemphill and Wheeler counties, on the 19th and 20th in Potter and Randall Counties, and on the 29th in Deaf Smith County. The flash flooding in Randall County on the 20th required the Canyon Fire Department to perform high water rescues.

July
Hi: 98°, 28th
Low: 59°, 4th
Average: 77.4° (0.8° below normal)
Precipitation: 4.96 inches (2.28 inches above normal)

The moisture train continued to roll through the Panhandles in July. Energy from the remnants of Hurricane Dolly moved through the Panhandles in late July. The combination of this remnant energy and moisture in place caused severe thunderstorms and heavy rain to develop on July 28th. Amarillo received over 3 inches of rain from the 28th through the 29th. Most of the severe weather occurred in Potter and Randall counties with the strongest storm producing golf ball size hail near the city of Canyon on the 28th. July was also the first month of the year to experience below normal average temperatures. In addition, the nearly five inches of rain observed in Amarillo during the month places this July as the 15th wettest on record.

August
Hi: 96°, 5th
Low: 59°, 19th and 20th
Average: 74.6° (1.7° below normal)
Precipitation: 4.43 inches (1.49 inches above normal)
Records: Set daily record lowest maximum temperature of 69° on August 16th and 68° on August 17th.

The cooler and wetter trend continued through August. Over four inches of rain fell in Amarillo during August with over five inches of rain in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Heavy rain and a few severe thunderstorms developed from the 11th through the 18th of the month. Remnant moisture and energy from Hurricane Edouard trickled into the Panhandles during this period helping to provide rain for every location in the Panhandles. The highest rainfall total was in the town of Hereford where 7.82 inches of rain fell while the lowest total of 2.0 inches fell in Dalhart. The widespread heavy rain resulted in flooding in Lipscomb County on the 14th, Deaf Smith County on the 16th, and Beaver, Ochiltree, Lipscomb and Armstrong Counties on the 18th. The Hereford Fire Department performed high water rescues for residents of the San Jose community just outside of Hereford.

September
Hi: 88°, 6th
Low: 48°, 15th
Average: 66.9° (2.2° below normal)
Precipitation: 1.32 inches (0.56 inches below normal)

The wet weather pattern continued through the early part of September, but the faucet ran dry after the 12th of the month. In fact, there was no measurable rainfall in Amarillo after September 12th. A few severe thunderstorms developed on the 5th of the month across Hemphill and Wheeler Counties, but the weather was relatively quiet and cool for most of the month.

October
Hi: 87°, 3rd and 10th
Low: 27°, 24th
Average: 58.2° (exactly normal)
Precipitation: 3.87 inches (2.37 inches above normal)
Records: Tied daily record highest minimum temperature of 60° on October 12th.

Dying tropical storms or hurricanes are somewhat of a rarity for the Panhandles. However, 2008 experienced the remnants of three Hurricanes. The last such instance occurred in October when the remnants of Norbert, a Pacific Hurricane which first impacted the Baja Peninsula of Mexico, reached the Panhandles between the 11th and the 14th of the month. Amarillo received over two inches of rain during this four day period alone which is well over the average rainfall for the entire month. Temperatures moderated throughout the month which resulted in an average monthly temperature that was exactly normal.

November
Hi: 81°, 4th
Low: 22°, 15th and 21st
Average: 48.2° (3.1° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.19 inches (0.49 inches below normal)
Snowfall: 0 inches
Interesting facts: Only measured precipitation on two days during the month.

The dry and warm conditions returned to the Panhandles in November. Two small wildfires develop but neither burned more than 300 acres. Measurable rain fell on two days during the month with a sixteen day dry period between the two rainy days.

December
Hi: 75°, 30th
Low: 6°, 21st
Average: 39.3° (2.1° above normal)
Precipitation: 0.05 inches (0.56 inches below normal)
Snowfall: 0.6 inches.
Records: Set daily record Low Maximum temperature of 15° on December 15th.
Interesting facts: Only measured precipitation on two days during the month.

One of the bigger stories of the month was the near record high temperatures on Christmas Day. Warm, windy and dry conditions were normal during December with a few cold outbreaks mixed in. The first cold arctic airmass of the year filtered into the Panhandles on the 14th and 15th of the month. The temperature fell fifty-four degrees on the 14th from a high of sixty-five to a low of eleven. Low temperatures fell into the single digits while the high temperature on the 15th only climbed to fifteen degrees. Another cold air outbreak hit the Panhandles on the 20th through the 22nd. The coldest morning of the year came on the 21st when Amarillo bottomed out at six degrees.

The first snowfall of the month occurred on the 9th when 0.3 inches of snow fell in Amarillo. Another 0.3 inches of snow fell on the 27th of the month bringing the total snowfall for the month at 0.6 inches.


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