June 2011 Climate Summary for Lubbock and Childress

Temperature

June 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 June, but also the warmest calendar month ever recorded. The numbers are pretty staggering as Lubbock's average temperature was 8.8 degrees above normal and Childress’s was an incredible 10.2 degrees above normal. Overall, daytime high temperatures were about 11 degrees above normal at Lubbock and 13 degrees above normal at Childress. During June, Lubbock reached or exceeded the century mark 17 times, while Childress exceeded 100 degrees 23 times! Lubbock recorded two of its top three temperature readings of all time during the month and Childress tied its all-time record high of 117 degrees! However, the daytime high temperatures only tell part of the story as overnight low temperatures were abnormally warm as well, running about 9 degrees above normal at Lubbock and 10 degrees at Childress. Both locations recorded some of the highest ever minimum temperature readings on record as well, with Lubbock and Childress only dropping to 78 and 85 degrees respectively on the night of the 26th. There are several reasons for these very warm temperatures, with one of them being that 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 exceptional drought conditions (which statistically happen on the order of every 50 to 100 years!). These extreme conditions combined to give the area some of the warmest temperatures ever recorded and helped us to rewrite the record book in many categories during the month. Thus given these abnormally high temperatures, it not surprising that we were in uncharted territory for heat across our region during June 2011!

There is not much you can say about June 2011 except that it started out hot and stayed that way through the end of the month, although some days were (relatively speaking) warmer or cooler than others. The first week of June saw daytime highs generally fluctuate between the middle 90s to around 100 degrees, with the warmer readings prevailing at Childress. By the 7th, the first "jump" in the daytime highs occurred as a lee surface trough draped along the Texas/New Mexico border helped to enhance southwesterly surface winds and allowed temperatures to exceed the century mark in many areas from the 7th through the 9th. Though no records were both broken at either site, readings in the mid to even upper 100s were observed with Lubbock reaching 104 and 103 degrees on the 8th and 9th and Childress reaching 108 and 105 degrees on those same days. A brief cool down occurred on the 10th and 11th as a cold front pushed through the region, dropping highs back into the mid to upper 90s. However by the 12th, an upper-level ridge of high pressure began to build into western Texas from the southwestern United States. This began a streak of generally 100+ degrees days at both sites through the 20th. It was during this streak that records began to fall. Lubbock broke three records (105 degrees on the 13th, 108 degrees on the 16th, and 107 degrees on the 19th) and Childress five records (105 degrees on the 12th, 109 degrees on the 16th, 111 degrees on the 17th, 107 degrees on the 18th, and 113 degrees on the 19th). The aforementioned upper-level high pressure gradually shifted eastward onto the southern Plains during the week, accounting for the overall rise in highs from 100-105 degrees to 105-110+ degrees by Father's Day weekend on June 17-19th. With the warmest 850/700 mb temperatures favoring the extreme southeastern Panhandle and the northern Rolling Plains, the highest temperatures occurred in those areas as Childress recorded a record high of 113 degrees and nearby Paducah recorded 114 degrees on Father's Day. Overnight lows were also abnormally warm that weekend, ranging from the middle 70s at Lubbock to the lower 80s at Childress.

As warm as that stretch was, it would not turn out to be the warmest period of time for the month because one weekend later even warmer temperatures would be observed across the region. However, a break in 100+ degree the streak briefly occurred on, ironically, the Summer Solstice (June 21st). A cold front pushed into the area and dropped high back closer to seasonable levels in the 90s on the 21st. In fact, that day was the coolest day in June for most locations across the region as Lubbock "only" reached a high of 92 degrees and actually dropped to 59 degrees earlier that morning. The cooler bout of temperatures was short-lived as another even stronger upper-level ridge built back into the region starting on the 22nd. This returned the region to another week long stretch of 100+ degree days to close out the month of June. As was the case the previous week, an area of very high 850/700 mb temperatures worked its way into the southern Plains late in the week from the 24-26th. However, this time the highest values were initially centered across the southwestern Panhandle and northern South Plains. As a result, locations across the entire region approached or exceeded the 110 degree plateau that weekend. On the 25th, most areas on the Caprock hit between 108-112 degrees, approaching all-time record high temperatures in many locations. Lubbock broke a record that day as the mercury reached 110 degrees at the official observing site. The warmest readings were observed just off of the Caprock as Post and Paducah reached 114 degrees, Northfield and Memphis reached 113 degrees, and Childress set a new record high with 112 degrees. On the 26th, the area of warmest 850/700 mb temperatures shifted slightly to the east across the eastern South Plains, extreme southeastern Panhandle, and Rolling Plains and allowed locations there to approach or reach their all-time record highest temperatures. The mercury blasted to 112 degrees at Lubbock, making June 26th the second hottest day on record (falling just short of the 114 degree record set on June 27, 1994). Childress tied it's all time record high of 117 degrees (which initially was also set on June 27, 1994) and nearby Paducah was the hot spot in the state, reaching a sweltering 118 degrees (just two degrees off from the all-time high temperature for the state which was set in 1936!). Additionally, overnight lows were very unusually warm as Lubbock and Childress both had their second and third highest low temperatures ever as readings of 78 degrees and 85 degrees were recorded at each site respectively. Heading into the last days of June, the aforementioned upper-ridge slowly slid to the east, allowing temperatures to "cool" below 110 degrees. However, the 100+ degree heat still persisted across most of the region through the end of the month, helping to cap off June 2011 as the warmest month ever across the southern Plains!

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




June 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. Five daily high temperature records were broken at Lubbock and eight at Childress in June! In addition, the all Click on the images for a larger version!

 

June Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Monthly Temperature  85.9  88.8
Normal June Temperature  77.1  78.6
Deviation From Normal  8.8 Above
 10.2 Above
Monthly Ranking  Record Warmest (since 1914)  Record Warmest (since 1928)
Warmest June
 85.9 (2011)  88.8 (2011)
Coolest June
 63.2 (1917)  64.0 (1954)
Highest Temperature (June 2011)  112 on the 26th  117 on the 26th
Lowest Temperature (June 2011)  59 on the 21st    65 on the 21st
All-Time Highest Temperature

 114* (June 27, 1994)       

 117* (June 26, 2011)

          (June 27, 1994)

All-Time Lowest Temperature  39 (June 2, 1917)

 48 (June 10, 1955)

       (June 4, 1948)

Record Highs (June 2011)

 105 on the 13th

 108 on the 16th

 107 on the 19th

  110 on the 25th

 112 on the 26th

 105 on the 12th

 109 on the 16th

 111 on the 17th

 107 on the 18th

 113 on the 19th

 106 on the 23rd

 112 on the 25th

 117 on the 26th

Record Lows (June 2011)  None  None

* = All-Time record high temperatures.


Precipitation

June 2011 can be characterized as very abnormally dry across all of western Texas as historic drought conditions persisted throughout the month. As was the case in April 2011, June will go down as the driest on record at Lubbock as no measureable precipitation occurred at the observing site during the month (only a trace was recorded on the 10th). Meanwhile, Childress was extremely dry as well as the 0.42" observed there during June ranked it as the 6th driest on record.

The main precipitation event across the South Plains region during the month of June occurred on the 10th as scattered thunderstorms developed along a cold front that dropped into the region. Rainfall totals varied greatly as some portions of Lubbock County picked up 0.50" of rainfall, while the observing site at the airport only received a trace. Off of the Caprock, rainfall totals were generally higher, particularly across portions of King, Dickens, Cottle, and Childress counties where totals exceeded half an inch to an inch in several locations. The Paducah mesonet picked up 0.88", Tell received 1.00" and Dumont picked up the biggest total for our area with 1.40". The storms did make into Childress where 0.35" of rain was observed. During the first week and a half of the month, some isolated thunderstorms developed across the region along a dryline. However, given that they were high-based, these storms provided very little rainfall and actually did more harm than good as the dry lightning they produced actually initiated some wildfires due to the very dry conditions across the region. Still, Childress did receive an additional 0.07" of rainfall from this convection, bringing its monthly total to 0.42".

As a result of the extremely dry conditions, the entire region 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. Sadly, though the area has seen a few isolated showers and storms to kickoff the month of July, this rainfall has virtually done nothing to improve the status of the drought. Thus, 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.

June Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Precipitation  Trace  0.42"
Normal Precipitation  2.98"  3.51"
Departure From Normal  2.98" Below  3.09" Below
Monthly Ranking  Record Driest (since 1911)  6th Driest (since 1924)
Wettest June  8.48" (2000)  12.05" (1941)
Driest June  Trace (2011, 1990)  0.11" (1953)
Wettest Day (2011)  Trace on the 10th
 0.35" on the 10th
All-Time Wettest June Day  6.70" (June 1, 1967)  4.46" (June 4, 1995)

 Winds

June Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Wind Speed (mph)  15.7  14.9
Normal Wind Speed (mph)  13.6  12.8
Highed Sustained Wind Speed (mph)  43 on the 19th
 53 on the 10th
Highest Wind Gust (mph)  53 on the 18th
 63 on the 10th

 

The Outlook for July, August, and September 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 July, 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. 96% of the state was experiencing D1 (Moderate) drought or higher. Also, 94% of the state was in a D-2 (Severe) drought or higher, and about 90% of the state had entered a D-3 (Extreme) drought. In addition, 71% 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 July, drought conditions are expected to persist across all of southern and central Texas. Over the course of the summer, the latest outlook suggests that there may be a slight improvement to the drought. However, this will depend on whether the region can begin to see some meaningful rainfall. Click on the image for a larger version!

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