|Into the Frying Pan, Out of the Fire
Searing Heat and Wind Dominate Spring/Summer before Autumn Rain Arrives
Calendar year 2009 was relatively quiet compared with the extremes of 2008. Still, after a rather benign start, things began to heat up – literally – as spring arrived and an oppressively hot summer followed. Winds, heat, and a few rounds of severe weather led May into June; wind and heat took the headlines in July and August, as nary a tropical cyclone was to be found in the western Gulf of Mexico. After the heat and drought wiped out much of the dryland crop, September arrived with thirst–quenching rainfall. October began with more unusual heat, which gave way to transitional cooling in November. The year ended with El Niño’s anticipated gray chill, which finished the drought across all of Deep South Texas. For the time being.
Winter: Wildfire and Warmth
The Spring in Winter theme would continue into February, as average high temperatures rose past 80 for the month for all but the immediate coast, and departures would be more than 6 degrees for most, placing the month in the top 15 warmest February’s at most locations. The paltry rainfall – less than an inch for most – combined with the warm, dry conditions led to a few more wildfires; fortunately, the sole fire that threatened homes near La Joya was brought under control.
Spring: Drought, Wildfire, Heat, and Storms (Again?)
The first half of May would begin where April left off: Hot, breezy, and rain free, with daytime temperatures in the 90s throughout the region, nearing or exceeding 100°F in the Mid and Upper Valley to the Rio Grande Plains. The early may heat wave had temperatures between 6 and 9°F above average. Drought intensified through mid month, reaching Extreme to Exceptional levels before some rain relief arrived during the second half of the month. In that second half, several upper level disturbances helped kick off scattered to locally numerous thunderstorms, some which produced strong winds and hail. The first of these, on May 16th and 17th.
Recently, Deep South Texas has experienced a one to two week period of severe weather in Spring. In 2009, this period began around Memorial Day and would continue into the first week of June. Between May 24th and May 28th, more than a dozen reports of wind gusts and hail were received, as well as two reports of destructive lightning, one which burned a large home in McAllen early on the 28th, with a replacement cost estimated to be around $1 million.To Page 2