March 2011 Climate Summary for Lubbock and Childress

Temperature

March was fairly warm and mild throughout the South Plains region, with both Lubbock and Childress recording above average temperatures that ranked among the top 15 warmest on record. In fact, highs only failed to reach the 60-degree plateau a handful of times. The month began with a warming trend as highs peaked in mid 70s to mid 80s areawide. A high of 84 degrees was recorded at Lubbock on the 3rd before a cold front passed through the region on 4th which dropped highs back into the 60s and briefly into the 50s on the 5th (with low temperatures reaching the freezing mark). From the 6th-10th highs generally remained in the 60s before a strong lee trough enhanced a southwesterly surface flow across the area on the 11th and allowed highs to reach 85 degrees at both sites. Another cold front pushed through the region on the 12th, but this only served to cool highs down about 10 degrees into the lower 70s through the 15th.  A dryline sweep east of the region on the 16th, helping to promote brisk southwesterly winds and a fairly warm and dry air mass across the South Plains and Rolling Plains. As a result, temperatures soared to their warmest levels measured during the month into the upper 80s to mid 90s. On St Patrick's Day, Lubbock set a record high temperature of 90 degrees, while at Childress the mercury rocketed to 96 degrees (falling just 1 degree short of the record of 97). Despite another cold front dropping through the area on the 18th, very warm temperatures in the mid 70s to the lower 80s persisted through the 25th. A backdoor cold front began to nose into the region from the northeast on the 26th-27th. In the wake of this frontal passage, temperatures fell below seasonable averages as highs only reached the 50s on the 28th and 29th at Lubbock. Meanwhile at Childress, the mercury only reached 48 degrees on the 27th, with slightly warmer readings in the lower 50s recorded on the 28th and 29th. Overnight lows also flirted with the freezing mark once again during this stretch. A warming trend concluded the month as winds shifted back to the south and temperatures rose back into the upper 70s and lower 80s on the 31st.

March 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. One daily high temperature records were broken at Lubbock in March! Click on the images for a larger version!

 

March Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Monthly Temperature  55.6  55.9
Normal March Temperature  51.2  52.7
Deviation From Normal  4.4 Above  3.2 Above
Monthly Ranking  Tied for 11th Warmest (since 1914)  13th Warmest (since 1928)
Warmest March  58.5 (1974)  58.5 (2007)
Coolest March  39.5 (1915)  41.9 (1965)
Highest Temperature (March 2011)  90 on the 17th  96 on the 17th
Lowest Temperature (March 2011)  27 on the 9th  29 on the 9th
All-Time Highest Temperature

 95 (March 11, 1989)

       (March 31, 1946)

 100 (March 12, 1989)

         (March 27, 1971)

All-Time Lowest Temperature  -2 (March 2, 1922)  2 (March 11, 1948)
Record Highs (March 2011)  90 on the 17th  None
Record Lows (March 2011)  None  None

 

Precipitation

March was fairly dry across the region as both sites once again saw below normal precipitation. Childress was particularly dry as its 0.03" of recorded rainfall made it the 6th driest March on record. Lubbock on the other hand was below average for precipitation as well, but the observing site did receive 0.35" of rainfall, with a majority of it (0.28") falling from a complex of thunderstorms that developed on the evening of the 4th along a cold front. These thunderstorms dropped out of northeast New Mexico into the SW Panhandle and South Plains during the evening, bringing locally heavy downpours, very gusty winds, and small hail. Incredibly, temperatures dropped so quickly behind the front, that about half an inch of snow was observed across the higher elevations of the extreme SW Panhandle. A few scattered showers and storms developed off of the Caprock on the evening of the 18th, which did end up producing 0.01" of rain at Childress. Additional thunderstorms fired along the intersection of a warm front and a dryline draped across the central South Plains on the afternoon and evening of the 19th. These thunderstorms became quite strong and quickly organized into supercells. Though most of the storms missed the city of Lubbock, one thunderstorm did briefly pass over the observing site, dropping 0.05" of rain and quarter sized hail. Larger hail up to the size of baseballs was measured to the north and west of Lubbock as well. The storms weakened and dissipated shortly after sunset leaving most of the area dry. Late in the month on the 28th and 29th, dense low cloud cover and fog produced light rain showers that yielded an additional 0.02" of precipitation for the month at both Lubbock and Childress. As a result of the continued dry weather, D-1 (Moderate) to D-2 (Severe) drought conditions continued to spread across the entire region as April 2011 began. A narrow tongue of D-0 (Abnormally dry) drough conditions still prevailed across the central South Plains.

March Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Precipitation  0.35"  0.03"
Normal Precipitation  0.76"  1.41"
Departure From Normal  0.41" Below  1.38" Below
Monthly Ranking  37th Driest (since 1911)  6th Driest (since 1924)
Wettest March  5.94" (2007)  5.12" (1929)
Driest March  0.00" (Last observed in 1972)  0.00" (Last observed in 1971)
Wettest Day (2011)  0.28" on the 4th  0.02" on the 29th
All-Time Wettest March Day  1.90 (March 12, 2007)  3.30 (March 28, 1929)

 

March Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Snowfall  0.0"  0.0"
Normal Snowfall  0.5"  0.4"
Departure From Normal  0.5" Below  0.4" Below
Monthly Ranking  Tied For Least Snowiest  Tied For Least Snowiest
Snowiest March  16.5" (1915)  12.0" (1969, 1924)
Snowiest Day (2011)  None  None
All-Time Snowiest Day  8.3" (March 15, 1969)  10.0" (March 1, 1942)

 Wind

March Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Wind Speed (mph)  12.2  11.0
Normal Wind Speed (mph)  14.6  13.8
Highed Sustained Wind Speed (mph)  39 on the 22nd  40 on the 22nd
Highest Wind Gust (mph)  54 on the 4th  49 on the 22nd

 

The Monthly Outlook for April from the Climate Prediction Center



The monthly temperature outlook for April 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 monthly precipitation outlook for April indicates a higher probability 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 April, drought conditions were continuing to worsen and expand across all of Texas. D-1 (Moderate) to D-2 (Severe) drought conditions are now prevailing across most of the region. 100% of the state was in a D-0 (Abnormally Dry) drought or higher. Also, 95% of the state was in a D-1 drought or higher, 79% of the state was in a D-2 drought or higher, and a about 43% of the state had entered a D-3 (Extreme) drought. 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 April, drought conditions are expected to persist or continue to develop across much of southern and central Texas. Click on the image for a larger version!

 


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