July 2011 Climate Summary for Lubbock and Childress

Temperature

Like June 2011, July 2011 will go down as a record-breaking month across the South Plains region in many different ways as both Lubbock and Childress not only recorded the warmest temperatures ever for the month of July, but also the warmest calendar month ever recorded! In other words, this July was even warmer than the recording breaking June one month earlier as the average temperature at Lubbock was 86.0 degrees (compared with 85.9 in June) and was 90.2 degrees at Childress (compared with 88.8 degrees in June). While there certainly weren't many readings above 110 degrees across the region as was the case in June, the overall average temperatures were even higher for two reasons. First, daytime high temperatures stayed warm and did not fluctuate much. There were no major frontal systems that brought about any significant changes in the air mass. A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure controlled the weather throughout the entire month, so hot conditions plagued the region for the entire month. The evidence of this is very telling when one looks at the daily high temperature observations. Daytime highs at Lubbock only fluctuated seven degrees during the entire month as temperatures ranged from 96 to 103 degrees! During July, Lubbock set a new record for 100+ degree days in a single year (standing at 34 through July 31st) and surpassing the previous record of 29 set in 1934! At Childress, daytime highs failed to drop below 100 degrees during the entire month! In fact, the high at Childress has not been below 100 degrees since June 22nd! During July, Childress set a new record for 100+ degree days (standing at 40 through July 31st) and breaking the previous record of 32 days in set 1934. In addition, through July 31st, there have been 66 total days where the temperature has reached the century mark at Childress, only 5 shy of the overall record of 71 set in 1934. Another reason why July was such a historically hot month is that low temperatures also remained extremely warm overnight. At Lubbock, the temperature fell below 69 degrees just once and the remained above 75 degrees on several occasions. As of July 31st, Lubbock has had lows of 75 degrees or higher 18 times, which shattered the old record of 10 set in 1978. Six record high minimum temperatures were set during July, including the highest low temperature ever recorded at Lubbock which occurred on the 27th when the low was 79 degrees! At Childress, the average low temperature was 76.4 degrees, almost a degree above the previous highest value. The mercury only dropped below 75 degrees six days during the entire month. Seven new record high minimum temperatures were set at Childress, including five 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 July 2011? As was the case in June, 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, increased atmospheric thickness values, 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 is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions (which statistically happen on the order of every 50 to 100 years!). Some monsoonal and gulf moisture did return to the Southern Plains during the month, which helped to keep the overall high temperature values lower this month compared to June. However, this also helped to keep temperatures warmer at night and is one reason why Lubbock was able to have its warmest month ever, despite not setting any record highs. These factors combined to promote the hot conditions observed across our region and helped us to rewrite the record book in many categories during the month. Thus, it is not too surprising that we continue to be in uncharted territory and are rewriting the record book for temperatures across our region this summer!

July began on a relative cooling trend as daytime highs briefly dropped into the middle 90s at Lubbock and the lower 100s at Childress. The highs of 96 degrees recorded at Lubbock on the 1st and 2nd were the lowest high temperature readings for the entire month and the low of 67 degrees recorded on the morning of the 2nd was the lowest reading observed during the month. A gradual warming trend began by the 3rd, as temperatures increased throughout the week following Independence Day weekend. Highs rose into the upper 90s and eventually over 100 degrees at Lubbock by the 7th, 8th, and 9th (with the high of 103 degrees being the warmest reading for the entire month). At Childress, temperatures rose into the upper 100s to around 110 degrees as record highs were set on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th with readings of 106, 108, 107, and 110 degrees respectively. A slight cool down occurred on the 11th and 12th as lows at Childress dropped to 68 degrees, but in general temperatures remained fairly constant through the end of the month. Highs fluctuated between 97 and 102 degrees at Lubbock, while at Childress readings between 100-105 degrees were common. As mentioned, temperatures were unusually warm overnight at both locations as Lubbock registered lows between 71-77 degrees (with a few nights that dropped to 69 or 70 degrees). At Childress readings between 75-81 degrees were observed for the remainder of the month. Another slight temperature "jump" occurred at Childress from the 24th-27th as highs climbed into the upper 100s, with records of 107 and 108 degrees being set on the 24th and 25th. At Lubbock, the all-time warmest low temperature was set on the 27th, as the mercury only fell to 79 degrees that night! A very subtle cool down occurred to close out the month as highs in the upper 90s were observed at Lubbock and in the lower 100s at Childress.

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 July 2011 to data from the complete temperature record which is from 1928-present. 



July 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 Childress in July! In addition, six record high minimum temperatures were broken at Lubbock and seven at Childress in July! These are denoted in light yellow. Click on the images for a larger version!

 

July Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Monthly Temperature  86.0  90.2
Normal July Temperature  79.8  83.1
Deviation From Normal  6.2 Above
 7.1 Above
Monthly Ranking  Record Warmest (since 1914)  Record Warmest (since 1928)
Warmest July
 86.0 (2011)  90.2 (2011)
Coolest July
 75.0 (1976)  78.0 (1950)
Highest Temperature (July 2011)  103 on the 9th  110 on the 9th
Lowest Temperature (July 2011)  67 on the 2nd    68 on the 11th and 12th
All-Time Highest Temperature

 109 (July 10, 1940)       

 114 (July 19, 1934)         

All-Time Lowest Temperature  49 (July 5, 1915)

 55 (July 28, 2005)*    

Record Highs (July 2011) None

 106 on the 6th

 108 on the 7th

 107 on the 8th

 110 on the 9th

 107 on the 25th

 108 on the 26th

Record Lows (July 2011)  None  None

* Period valid (1928-2011)

Precipitation

Very dry conditions persisted into July across the Southern Plains region, though there were a few bright spots for portions of the area during the month. As mentioned, an upper-level ridge of high pressure dominated the weather across the region, but with higher moisture values during month some scattered showers were able to develop across the area, particularly during the first half of the month. However statistically speaking, July will still be characterized as abnormally dry across all of western Texas as historic drought conditions persisted throughout the month (particularly across the Central and Southern South Plains where very little rainfall was observed). July will go down as the 4th driest on record at Lubbock, with the 0.05" observed only falling short of three other years that had no rainfall. Meanwhile, Childress did receive some rainfall from thunderstorms during the early to middle part of the month. However, this precipitation still fell short of the normal rainfall for the month by about a quarter of an inch.

The main precipitation event across the South Plains region during July occurred on the evening of the 11th and early morning hours of the 12th as a complex of storms developed across the extreme southern Panhandle and northeastern South Plains. The formation of these storms coincided with a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough or TUTT that moved into the region. Though much of the South Plains remained dry, localized areas across Briscoe, Floyd, Hall, and Childress Counties received very heavy rainfall, with isolated totals reported to be between 5-10 inches in some areas. These storms pushed eastward into Childress and produced 1.75" of rain that night (along with some hail and wind damage). 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.  

However, as a result of some of the heavy rainfall the occurred across portions of the extreme southeastern Panhandle and northeastern South Plains, portions of Hall, Briscoe, Floyd, and Childress Counties have been lowered to D-3 (Severe) Drought status. However, given the extremely dry conditions that continue to plague the region most of the 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.

July Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Precipitation  0.05"  1.79"
Normal Precipitation  2.13"  2.05"
Departure From Normal  2.08" Below  0.26" Below
Monthly Ranking  4th Driest (since 1911)  45th Driest (since 1924)
Wettest July  7.20" (1976)  6.80" (1962)
Driest July  0.00" (2003, 1970, 1940)  0.00" (1980)
Wettest Day (2011)  0.02" on the 12th and 30th
 1.57" on the 11th
All-Time Wettest July Day  3.42" (July 22, 1928)  4.56" (July 24, 1962)

 Winds

July Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Wind Speed (mph)  10.6  9.4
Normal Wind Speed (mph)  11.4  11.5
Highed Sustained Wind Speed (mph)  43 on the 12th
 47 on the 11th
Highest Wind Gust (mph)  53 on the 12th
 67 on the 11th

 

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



The three-month temperature outlook for the summer and early 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 summer and early fall indicates equal chances of above or 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 August, drought conditions were continuing to worsen across all of Texas. D-4 (Exceptional) drought conditions continued to prevail across most of the South Plains region, with a small fraction of the southeast Panhandle in D-3 (Severe) drought. 99% of the state was experiencing D1 (Moderate) drought or higher. Also, 98% of the state was in a D-2 (Severe) drought or higher, and about 92% of the state had entered a D-3 (Extreme) drought. In addition, 74% 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 in August, drought conditions are expected to persist across all of southern and central Texas. Click on the image for a larger version!

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