Once again, Panhandle weather provided plenty of diversity during 2010.  The winter season really started off in late December 2009 and continued through March.  Amarillo typically averages about 20 inches of snow each year, and we measured nearly 24 inches of snow from January through March.  In addition, these three months were quite a change from 2009.  The average temperature for January through March 2009 was nearly 4 degrees above normal while this same time period in 2010 experienced an average temperature that was nearly 3 degrees below normal with twice as much snowfall.  For the entire year, 28.8 inches of snow fell at Amarillo, which makes 2010 the 15th snowiest year on record.

      The moist conditions continued through April with the four month combined precipitation total being nearly 4 inches above normal.  However, the moisture was not to last as a two month dry period developed.  May and June precipitation totals were 2.5 inches below normal.  A general warming trend started in June and continued through the end of the year.  The average temperature from June through December was over 2.5 degrees warmer than normal.  Our highest temperature of the year actually occurred in September when the thermometer hit triple digits on two consecutive days.

       Interestingly, half of the months in 2010 ended up with below normal precipitation while the other half recorded above normal precipitation.  However, the wet months were very wet.  Three months out of the year (April, July, and November) combined to experience nearly 10 inches more precipitation than normal.  By the end of the year, Amarillo received just under 7 inches more precipitation than normal, and in fact, 2010 will go down as the 11th wettest year on record at Amarillo.

      2010 will also be remembered as an active severe weather year for the Panhandles.  Although the severe weather season started somewhat slowly, the severe weather reports increased substantially from late April through mid June.  The Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles typically see about 21 tornadoes per year, and this year, 38 were reported.  Fortunately, the vast majority were weak and caused no damage.

 

YEAR 2010 SUMMARY FOR AMARILLO

High for the year: 101°, September 5th
Low for the year: 2°, January 8th
Average High Temperature: 71.4° (1.1° above normal)
Average Low Temperature: 44.7° (1.1° above normal)
Average Annual Temperature: 58.0° (1° above normal)
Annual precipitation: 26.54 inches (6.83 inches above normal)
Annual snowfall: 28.8 inches (10.9 inches above normal)
Days with temperature ≥ 100 degrees: 5
Tornadoes: 38 Total – 34 EF0’s, 3 EF1’s and 1 EF2

 



January
    Hi: 71°, 22nd
    Low: 2°, 8th
    Average: 36.1° (0.3° above normal)
    Precipitation: 0.94 inches (0.31 inches above normal)
    Snowfall: 7.1 inches

    January started off cold when arctic air plowed into the Panhandle and brought some of the coldest temperatures of the year.  The morning low on the 8th of the month dropped to a bone chilling 2 degrees.  However, we ended up with a slightly warmer than normal January due to a prolonged period of warm air that lingered from the 10th of the month through the 27th.  The month ended with a bang when a winter storm pummeled the Panhandles on the 28th and 29th.  Amarillo received just over 7 inches of snow, while many other Panhandle locations witnessed 7 to 11 inches of snow.

 



February
    Hi: 62°, 18th
    Low: 12°, 3rd  
    Average: 32.8° (7.8° below normal)
    Precipitation: 1.29 inches (0.74 inches above normal)
    Snowfall: 10 inches
    Records:  This was the 12th coldest February on record

    February was the coldest month of the year and provided the most snowfall.  The average temperature for the month was nearly 8 degrees below normal and only four days during the month experienced normal or warmer than normal temperatures.  The winter systems were more frequent in February as well.  Amarillo measured snow on six days out of the month.  The first system moved through the area on the 3rd and 4th and provided 7 to 8 inches of snow across the northwest Texas and western Oklahoma Panhandles.  A few weaker systems impacted the Panhandles on the 7th, 8th, 21st and 22nd of the month and generally produced less than 4 inches of snow.

 



March
    Hi: 87°, 30th and 31st
    Low: 20°, 21st
    Average: 47.6° (0.3° below normal)
    Precipitation: 1.61 inches (0.48 inches above normal)
    Snowfall: 6.7 inches
    Records: Tied the record high maximum temperature of 87° on the 30th (set in 1947)
                     Tied the record high minimum temperature of 49° on the 7th (set in 1985)
                     Tied the record high minimum temperature of 58° on the 31st (set in 1974)

    We had a fairly benign March for Panhandle standards this year.  While there were no reports of severe thunderstorms in March, we did have a few winter storms.  The first storm hit the Panhandles on March 10th and produced 9 inches of snow in the Northwest Texas Panhandle.  Then on the 24th and 25th of the month, another storm brought 6 to 8 inches of snow to the northern Panhandles, with less than 2 inches across the southern Texas Panhandle.

 



April
    Hi: 90°, 5th
    Low: 26°, 8th
    Average: 57.3° (1.1° above normal)
    Precipitation: 3.28 inches (1.95 inches above normal)
    Records: Set a new daily record high maximum temperature of 90° on the 5th (set in 2000)
    Tornadoes: 10 Total - 9 EF0’s and 1 EF1.
   
    The increase in severe thunderstorms in April made up for the quiet March.  The first tornado of the year occurred on April 20th in Potter County, just west of Amarillo (near Bushland, Texas).  This tornado was rated as an EF0 and fortunately remained over open country causing no damage.  A second EF0 tornado touched down on the 20th, but this also remained over open country.  Just two days later, on April 22nd, the remaining eight April tornadoes developed.  The strongest tornado touched down near the community of Goodnight snapping two power poles in half and mangled a barbed wire fence.  This tornado was rated as an EF1 and remained on the ground for more than 10 miles.

 



May
    Hi: 92°, 22nd
    Low: 35°, 2nd
    Average: 64.2° (1.0° below normal)
    Precipitation: 2.18 inches (0.32 inches below normal)
    Records: Tied the record high minimum temperature of 66° on the 23rd (set in 1996 and 1939)
    Tornadoes: 22 Total – 19 EF0, 2 EF1 and 1 EF2

    The first half of May was relatively quiet for severe weather.  However, strong non- thunderstorm winds reminded Panhandle residents that thunderstorms are not the only threat to property.  On May 10th, a tight pressure gradient caused wind speeds to develop in excess of 70 mph.  These near hurricane force winds caused a steeple on top of a church building in Amarillo to be blown sideways.
    The severe thunderstorms were certainly present during the second half of the month.  In fact, between May 18th and May 31st, all 22 tornadoes touched down with 12 of these tornadoes occurring during the May 18th/19th severe weather outbreak.  While most of these tornadoes rated as an EF0 and caused minimal damage, one tornado developed on May 18th causing EF2 rated damage.  This tornado occurred near the communities of Pringle and Stinnett, Texas around 6:45 p.m.  While this tornado only remained on the ground for five miles, it caused significant damage to a farm.  A large portion of the farmhouse roof was removed and several outdoor sheds were destroyed.  In addition, a pickup truck was flipped upside down smashing the cab.



June
    Hi: 100°, 19th
    Low: 58°, 15th and 29th
    Average: 78.6° (4.3° above normal)
    Precipitation: 1.00 inches (2.28 below normal)
    Records: This was the 7th warmest June on record
    Tornadoes: 6 Total – All Rated as EF0

    The story of June occurred on the 12th of the month.  Only one tornado developed on the 12th while the remaining five June tornadoes occurred on the 13th.  However, what transpired on the 12th was truly unique and nearly world record setting.
    Multiple storm chasers were zooming around the Panhandles on the 12th hoping to find a tornado or something more spectacular.  One chaser certainly got that wish.  At around 2:30 p.m., near the town of Sunray, Texas, this storm chaser drove into a thunderstorm producing extremely large hail.  Initially, golf ball size hail began falling but quickly increased to the size of baseballs.  Within a few moments, the baseball size hail grew to softballs and then literally grew to be off the charts.  The final report from this chaser, which was verified by photographs, was a 6-inch diameter hail stone that crashed through the windshield on his vehicle.  This year, a new world record hail stone was recorded in Vivian, South Dakota on July 23rd.  This hail stone measured 8 inches in diameter and weighed 2 pounds.  So the hail event on June 12th near Sunray, Texas nearly broke a world record.
     Otherwise, June was quite warm.  In fact, this was the 7th warmest June on record.  June was also dry.  Most of the severe weather and thunderstorms occurred on the 12th or 13th of the month and only 1 inch of rain fell in Amarillo.



July
    Hi: 95°, 13th and 31st
    Low: 60°, 1st
    Average: 76.8° (1.4° below normal)
    Precipitation: 8.02 inches (5.34 inches above normal)
    Record: Wettest July on record (broke previous record of 7.59 inches in 1960)

 

 Set the all-time 24-hour rainfall record of 7.25 inches on the 7th and 8th (broke previous record of 6.75 inches set on May 15th and 16th, 1951)

Set the all-time calendar day record rainfall of 5.74 inches on the 7th (previous record was 4.92 inches set on June 10th, 1984)

    After a measly 1 inch of rain fell in June, the skies opened up and produced record setting rainfall in early July.  During the evening hours of Wednesday, July 7, 2010, showers and thunderstorms became widespread along the Highway 60 corridor from near Hereford, to Amarillo, to Panhandle, to Skellytown. The showers and thunderstorms developed in the vicinity of a stalled cold front in a moist and unstable environment.
    The heavy rain initially impacted areas just to the east of Amarillo after 7:30 p.m. Additional showers and thunderstorms continued to develop near the stalled frontal boundary, eventually impacting the city of Amarillo around 10:30 p.m.  A distinct northeast to southwest rainfall gradient became apparent. The hardest hit areas were just to the east and northeast of Amarillo where 11.04 inches fell at Highland Park High School, according to a local media school net. This resulted in significant flooding along Highway 60, including extensive damage to Highland Park High School where 2 to 4 feet of water inundated parts of the school. The heavy rains also caused major street flooding in the southern part of Amarillo where there were swift water rescues and road closures.  This rainfall also caused significant flooding at the airport where a foot of water was reported in the terminal.
    When this event finally ended during the evening hours on the 8th, multiple records had been set.  Amarillo set a record for the most rainfall in a 24-hour period, and a record for the most rainfall during a calendar day.  In addition, this July will now be marked as the wettest July on record with the final monthly rainfall total eclipsing 8 inches. 

 



August
    Hi: 98°, 2nd
    Low: 48°, 26th
    Average: 78.3° (2.0° above normal)
    Precipitation: 2.55 inches (0.39 inches below normal)
    Records: Set the record low minimum temperature of 49° on the 25th

 

Set the record low minimum temperature of 48° on the 26th – this also tied the all time record low temperature for August previously set on August 30th 1915

    The temperature trends in August were a bit unique.  Near the end of the month, Amarillo set two daily low temperature records and tied the all-time coldest temperature recorded in August.  However, the average temperature for the entire month was a solid 2 degrees above average.  So, the overall trend for the month was warm and relatively dry.  Amarillo did receive over 2 ½ inches of rain, but this fell below average for August.  There were only 5 severe thunderstorm wind reports across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles with no severe hail.



September
    Hi: 101°, 5th
    Low: 48°, 26th and 27th
    Average: 73.8° (4.7° above normal)
    Precipitation: 1.79 inches (0.09 inches below normal)
    Records: This was the 9th warmest September on record
                     Tied the record high minimum temperature of 68° on the 15th (previously set in 1931)

    The warming trend continued from August through September.  In fact, relatively speaking, September was the warmest month of the year as the average temperature was nearly 5 degrees above normal (August actually had the highest average temperature for the year).  September also witnessed the highest maximum temperature for the year when the thermometer topped out at 101° on the 5th of the month.  Since 1892, there have only been 20 September days that hit 100° or greater and this September witnessed two consecutive days of triple digit heat.  The record for the latest 100° day occurred on September 11th, 1910 when the temperature hit 101° (although Amarillo did reach 99° on October 3rd, 2000).
    Severe thunderstorms were more common in September than in August.  Indeed, grapefruit- sized hail fell in Palo Duro Canyon State Park on September 16 along with flash flooding in the city of Amarillo.  After the rains in the middle of September, the number of wildfires also increased suggesting that a general drying trend was starting.



October
    Hi: 86°, 15th
    Low: 32°, 28th
    Average: 61.5° (3.3° above normal)
    Precipitation: 0.78 inches (0.72 inches below normal)
    Records: This was the 20th warmest October on record

    Once again, the dry and warm trend continued through October.  Amarillo only experienced two days of rainfall and ended up with about half the normal precipitation for October.  The first freeze of the fall season came on the 28th when Amarillo bottomed out at 32°.  On the 25th of the month a tight surface pressure gradient caused winds in excess of 60 mph to develop.  Otherwise, the weather during October was fairly benign.



November
    Hi: 81°, 8th
    Low: 15°, 26th
    Average: 46.5° (1.4° above normal)
    Precipitation: 2.88 inches (2.20 inches above normal)
    Snowfall: 3.0 inches
    Records: This was the 8th wettest November on record

    November also witnessed above normal temperatures, but found a way to break out of the dry trend by squeezing out nearly 3 inches of precipitation.  On the 11th and 12th of the month, a strong early season storm brought a mixture of flooding rains and heavy snow.  The heavy rains fell on the 11th causing flooding problems mainly across Amarillo.  Cold air filtered into the Panhandles behind a cold front and caused the rainfall to transition to snow early in morning on the 12th. 
    The heaviest snow generally fell along the Interstate 40 corridor in the southwestern Texas Panhandle.  Some Panhandle residents may have been surprised to have heard thunder during the snow.  Thundersnow does not happen very often in the Panhandles.  When it does occur, it is a sign of a very strong storm.  Heavy snow bands can often be found when thundersnow is occurring.



December
    Hi: 76°, 15th
    Low: 14°, 31st
    Average: 41.0° (4.0° above normal)
    Precipitation: 0.22 inches (0.39 inches below normal)
    Snowfall: 2.0 inches

    Records: Tied a record high of 75° on the 3rd (previously set in 1926)
                     Set a record high of 76° on the 15th (previously set in 1977)

    The December weather pattern followed a typical La Nina trend and resulted in above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.  However, one winter storm impacted the Panhandles during the middle of the month. The western and central Texas Panhandle received the most snow, including over 9 inches in parts of Hartley and Oldham Counties.  Outside of the western and central Texas Panhandles, many areas received 1 to 3 inches, including 2 inches at Amarillo.  Otherwise, the month was generally dry with most areas receiving below normal precipitation.  The lack of precipitation over a three-month period across the western half of the Oklahoma Panhandle resulted in this area being classified in a moderate drought.


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