August 2011 Climate Summary for Lubbock and Childress

Temperature

Like June and July, August 2011 will go down as a record-breaking month across the South Plains region as both Lubbock and Childress not only recorded the warmest temperatures ever for the month of August, but also their warmest calendar months ever recorded! In other words, this August was comparable or even warmer than the recording breaking months of July and June as the average temperature at Lubbock was 86.0 degrees (compared with 86.0 degrees in July and 85.9 degrees in June) and was 90.9 degrees at Childress (compared with 90.2 degrees in July and 88.8 degrees in June). As was the case in July, there were not a lot of excessively hot days greater than 110 degrees, but the overall temperature average was extremely high because of the sustained number of 90+ and 100+ degree days  and the continued warm temperatures in excess of 70 degrees at night. This unusual heat helped to skew the average temperature to record setting levels once again. Though there were some brief “cooling” days into the 90s at Childress, the average high temperature for the month was 105.1 degrees, over 10 degrees higher than normal. Additionally, low temperatures never dropped below 70 degrees (with several nights bottoming out between 75 to 83 degrees), making the average low 76.6 degrees or a little over 7 degrees above normal. With the exception of a few days, Lubbock's high temperatures for the month ranged between 97 and 104 degrees, which helped make the average high for the month 99.2 degrees or about 8 degrees above normal. In general, lows were above 70 degrees for a significant portion of the month and were even above 75 degrees several times during the month, a very rare event for Lubbock during the peak of the summer, let alone at the end of August.

There were numerous temperature records that were shattered during the month across the region which directly point to how persistent the heat has really been. During August, Lubbock set a new record for 100+ degree days in a single year (standing at 48 through August 31st) and surpassing the previous record of 29 set in 1934! Additionally, Lubbock extended its streak of 90+ degree days to 97 through August 31st, breaking the old mark of 81 set in 1934. At Childress, daytime highs failed to reach the century mark 3 times during the entire month! In fact, over the course of meteorological summer (June 1-August 31), the high at Childress failed to reach the 100 degree plateau only 10 times. During August, Childress set a new record for consecutive 100+ degree days with 50 straight (June 22-August 10), before it was mercifully snapped on August 11th. Through August 31st, there have been 94 total days where the temperature has reached the century mark at Childress, smashing the old record of 71 set in 1934. Additionally, Childress extended its streak of 90+ degree days to 97 straight through August 31st, breaking the old mark of 88 set in 1980 and 1934. As mentioned, another reason why July was such a historically hot month is that low temperatures also remained extremely warm overnight.  As of August 31st, Lubbock has had lows of 75 degrees or higher 27 times, which shattered the old record of 10 set in 1978. Eight record high minimum temperatures were set during August, including the highest low temperature ever recorded at Lubbock (set on the 8th) when the low was 79 degrees! At Childress, the mercury only dropped below 75 degrees five days during the entire month. Nine new record high minimum temperatures were set at Childress, including four nights where the mercury failed to fall below 80 degrees! Needless to say, the consistently hot high temperatures combined with the abnormally warm low temperatures helped to create the persistent record breaking heat across the entire Southern Plains region.

So why was it so hot across the region in August 2011? Well, as was the case during June and July, a very strong upper-level ridge of high pressure was generally centered directly over western Texas for much of the month, promoting sunny and dry conditions, southerly winds, and very warm temperature readings aloft in the middle to upper levels of the atmosphere. This pattern just happened to coincide with the driest start to a calendar year on record across the Southern Plains as the entire region continues to experience exceptional drought conditions (which statistically happen on the order of every 50 to 100 years!). Like July, some monsoonal and gulf moisture did push into the region at times, which helped to keep high temperatures lower compared to earlier in the summer. However, this also resulted in overnight lows being much warmer at night than what is typical for August (particularly during the latter half of the month). These factors combined to promote the hot conditions observed across our region and shattered temeprature records in many categories during the month. Thus, it is not too surprising that we were to be in uncharted territory and literally rewrote the record book for temperatures across our region this summer!

The first ten days of August began as July ended: with continued very hot temperatures during the day and particularly unusually warm overnight lows. During this time period, Lubbock began a streak of 9 consecutive days at of above 100 degrees, making that the 4th longest 100+ degree stretch on record for the city. During this stretch, four high temperatures records were set when the mercury topped off at 102 on the 5th and 6th, 103 on the 9th, and 104 on the 10th. Overnight lows continued to be unusually warm as well at Lubbock, generally ranging in the low to mid 70s. However on the 8th and 10th, the mercury failed to drop below 79 degrees and 77 degrees respectively. Meanwhile, Childress continued its streak of 100+ degree days and set a record high of 110 degrees on the 9th. Overnight low temperatures were incredibly warm during this time period as well and generally ranged from 75-80 degrees. However, on the 3rd, 4th, and 8th, the temperature only fell to 82, 83, and 82 degrees respectively, making these among the warmest low temperatures ever recorded at Childress for those dates. A cold front dropped through the region on the evening of the 11th which ended the streak of 100+ degree days at Childress at 50 (shattering the old record of 32) and also ended the streak of 9 straight 100+ degree days at Lubbock. The high of 96 degrees recorded at Childress on the 11th, marked the first time since June 22 that the mercury failed to reach the 100 degree plateau. The high of 93 recorded on the 14th was the lowest high temperature reading for the month at Childress and the lowest observed high since May 26. However, by the 17th, a warming trend back into the 100s occurred where highs would stay for most of the month. On the Caprock, temperatures were relatively cooler in the 90s for the next two weeks before a slight warming trend began and temperatures returned to the 100 degree plateau on the 24th. Through the end of the month, very hot conditions persisted and with the exception of the 26th, 29th, and 31st, readings of 100 degrees or higher were experienced though the remainder of the month. Daily high temperature records of 103 and 104 were set at Lubbock on the 28th and 30th and at Childress records of 106, 110, and 111 were set on the 23rd, 28th, and 30th, respectively.


NOTE: Some temperature data for Childress exists before 1928 and goes as far back as the 1890s. However it is a very incomplete record as there are many large gaps in the data before 1928 (some as large as 20 years). Therefore, this analysis will only compare the observations from August 2011 to data from the complete temperature record which is from 1928-present. 



August 2011 temperature graphs for Lubbock (LBB) and Childress (CDS). The red bars indicate the actual observed daily high and low temperatures and the extended black lines denote the daily record highs and lows. Any record high temperatures set are denoted in yellow. Six daily high temperature records were broken at Lubbock and five at Childress in August! In addition, eight record high minimum temperatures were broken at Lubbock and nine at Childress in August! These are denoted in light yellow. Click on the images for a larger version!

 

August Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Monthly Temperature  86.0  90.9
Normal August Temperature  79.0  82.1
Deviation From Normal  7.0 Above  8.8 Above
Monthly Ranking  Record Warmest (since 1914)  Record Warmest (since 1928)
Warmest August
 86.0 (2011)  90.9 (2011)
Coolest August
 73.0 (1920, 1915)  77.2 (1971)
Highest Temperature (August 2011) 104 on the 8th, 10th, and 30th  111 on the 30th
Lowest Temperature (August 2011)  66 on the 14th    70 on the 13th
All-Time Highest Temperature

 107 (August 3, 1944)

         (August 12, 1936)

         (August 13, 1936)      

 115 (August 2, 1944)         

All-Time Lowest Temperature   43 (August 31, 1915)

  52 (August 26, 2010)*    

Record Highs (August 2011)

 102 on the 5th

 102 on the 6th

 103 on the 9th

 104 on the 10th

 103 on the 28th

 104 on the 30th

 110 on the 9th

 106 on the 23rd

 107 on the 27th

 110 on the 28th

 111 on the 30th

Record Lows (August 2011)  None  None

* Period valid (1928-2011)

Precipitation

Though very dry conditions persisted into August across the Southern Plains region, there were instances where some appreciable rainfall did occur. A few weak fronts/outflow boundaries combined with some appreciable low-level moisture (thanks to some upslope winds) to produce some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms. Given some of the increased low-level moisture, this convection did result in some locally heavy rainfall occurring in localized spots across the region. However, given the scattered nature of this convection and the random, infrequent occurrence of these storms, August will still be characterized as abnormally dry across all of western Texas as historic drought conditions persisted throughout the month. Overall, August will go down as the 14th driest on record at Lubbock, with the just the 0.34" that was observed at the official observing site. Meanwhile, Childress only received 0.16”, making this August, the 9th driest on record there.

The main rainfall event during August occurred on the evening of August 11th as a cold front dropping southward into the Southern Plains was able to focus some of the low to mid-level moisture that was in place across the area. As a result more widespread complexes of outflow driven showers and thunderstorms were able to develop and propagate across the region. For much of Lubbock and the surrounding areas, this was the first significant rainfall since spring, and many locations more than doubled their yearly rainfall totals in this one event! Unfortunately, the rainfall was not widespread and the Lubbock area was "lucky" in that two outflow boundaries collided just west of the city setting up new thunderstorm development that moved only very slowly to the east. Locations on the south side of Lubbock received over 2.5" of rain which resulted in some flash flooding along 98th Street and Quaker Avenue. Sadly, most of the appreciable rainfall fell across these sections of the city and missed the official observing site at the airport, where only 0.05" was recorded. Another shower moved across the airport site on the 18th and dumped 0.29"of rain, but this was nothing close to the totals the were seen one week earlier on the 11th. Unfortunately, dry conditions prevailed for the remainder of the month so the overall impact of the rainfall that occurred in most places was still fairly minimal. 

Given the extremely dry conditions that continue to plague the region, the entire area still remains in D-4 (Exceptional) drought status, the highest ranking possible. This ranking points to how critically dry the area really is as a drought of this stature is incredibly rare with a probability of occurring once every 50-100 years. As a result of this very significant drought, fuels such as grasses, mesquite, and juniper continue to be extremely stressed and are at record levels of dryness. These extremely dry fuels act as kindling to wildfires and along with very strong winds, allow them to grow and spread rapidly once they are initiated. Given the state of these fuels, an elevated fire danger continues to exist across the entire region even on non-windy days. Unfortunately, these exceptional drought conditions are expected to persist (and could even worsen further) if the region does not begin to consistently experience any meaningful rainfall in the coming weeks.

August Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Precipitation  0.34"  0.16"
Normal Precipitation  1.91"  2.62"
Departure From Normal  1.57" Below  2.46" Below
Monthly Ranking  14th Driest (since 1911)  9th Driest (since 1924)
Wettest August  8.85" (1966)  7.95" (1995)
Driest August  0.00" (1943)  0.00" (1943)
Wettest Day (2011)  0.29" on the 17th  1.07" on the 13th
All-Time Wettest August Day  3.30" (August 28, 1946)  4.53" (August 2, 1995)

 Winds

August Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Wind Speed (mph)  9.8  9.3
Normal Wind Speed (mph)  10.1  10.7
Highed Sustained Wind Speed (mph)  38 on the 11th  38 on the 20th
Highest Wind Gust (mph)  46 on the 11th  49 on the 20th

 

The Outlook for September, October, and November from the Climate Prediction Center



The three-month temperature outlook for the fall indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures for the southern Texas Panhandle, South Plains, and Rolling Plains. Click on the image for a larger version!  The three-month precipitation outlook for the fall indicates a higher probablity of below normal precipitation for the southern Texas Panhandle, South Plains, and Rolling Plains. Click on the image for a larger version!

 

 The latest drought outlook for the state of Texas:


As of early September, drought conditions were continuing to worsen across all of Texas. D-4 (Exceptional) drought conditions continued to prevail across all of the South Plains region. 100% of the state was experiencing D1 (Moderate) drought or higher. Also, 99% of the state was in a D-2 (Severe) drought or higher, and about 95% of the state had entered a D-3 (Extreme) drought. In addition, 81% of the state was experiencing D-4 (Exceptional) drought, the highest category possible. These drought conditions are extremely rare, with the probability of extreme drought occurring on the order of every 20-50 years and exceptional drought every 50-100 years! Click on the image for a larger version!

 

The latest seasonal drought outlook for the United States:


Given the higher probabilities for below normal precipitation this fall, significant drought conditions are expected to persist across most of the Lone Star State. Click on the image for a larger version!

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.