October 2011 Climate Summary for Lubbock and Childress

Temperature

Like September, October was a very typical autumn month as temperatures generally ended up fairly close to seasonable averages as Lubbock and Childress were 0.8 and 1.1 degrees above normal respectively. However, once again this means that October 2011 becomes the 15th consecutive month where "above normal" temperatures were experienced across the region. As one might expect for an autumn month, October was characterized by several temperature swings due to frontal passages. In general though, an upper-level ridge of high pressure helped to promote fair weather for most of the month. October began on a warming trend as temperatures peaked into the 80s to the lower 90s across the region, before a front briefly knocked highs back into the 70s on the 5th. A short warming trend ensued before a strong upper-level low pressure system pushed into the area, bringing a cool, moist air mass into the area which dropped highs into the 70s and 60s by the 9th. Another upper-level ridge of high pressure spread into the area beginning on the 10th, promoting fair and dry weather and creating a gradual warming trend that persisted through the next week. Highs warmed from the upper 70s well into the 80s and even the lower 90s by the 16th and 17th, with Childress setting a record of 92 degrees on the 16th. A strong cold front pushed through the region on the evening of the 17th, which created the large haboob that impacted much of the region. This front also served to knock highs back down into the 60s and lows into the 30s and 40s on the 18th and 19th. Another high pressure ridge moved over western Texas on the 20th, beginning another pronounced warming trend that would last through the next week. Highs once again rose from the 70s into the 80s and eventually the lower 90s, with Lubbock and Childress setting records of 91 and 94 degrees respectively on the 25th. On the 26th and 27th, a strong upper-level low pressure system pushed a strong cold front through the state, ushering another cold, moist air mass into the Southern Plains. This air mass brought about some of the coldest temperatures observed across the area since late March as highs only peaked into the 40s and Lubbock dropped below the freezing mark on the 28th for the first time since March 30th. Dry and fair conditions prevailed for the rest of the month as temperatures climbed back into the 60s and 70s during Halloween weekend to close out the month.

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.

October 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 record was set at Lubbock and two were set at Childress in October! Click on the images for a larger version!

 
  

October Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Monthly Temperature  62.3  64.2
Normal October Temperature  61.5  63.1
Deviation From Normal  0.8 Above
 1.1 Above
Monthly Ranking  32nd Warmest (since 1914)  30th Warmest (since 1928)
Warmest October
 66.2 (1934)
 70.9 (1934)
Coolest October
 54.0 (1976)
 55.8 (1976)
Highest Temperature (October 2011)  91 on the 17th
 94 on the 25th
Lowest Temperature (October 2011)  31 on the 28th
 35 on the 28rd
All-Time Highest Temperature

 100 (October 3, 2000)     

 103 (October 3, 2000)

         (October 8, 1979)        

All-Time Lowest Temperature

 18 (October 30, 1993)     

  21 (October 31, 1993)*

        (October 30, 1993)*

Record Highs (October 2011)

 91 on the 25th

 92 on the 16th

 88 on the 24th

 94 on the 25th

Record Lows (October 2011)  None  None

* Period valid (1928-2011)

 

Precipitation

October 2011 did see some rainfall events across the Southern Plains region as once again both sites had greater than one inch of rainfall for the second consecutive month, making it the first time this has happened since September and October 2010! Despite a couple of rainfall events, Lubbock still fell about 0.50" short of its normal rainfall for the month. However, the two rainfall events that impacted Childress produced 3.23" of rain or about one inch above normal for the month, making Childress "wetter" than average for a given month for the first time in over a year.

The first rainfall "event" for October occurred on the weekend of October 8th and 9th as a strong upper-level low pressure system pushed over western Texas. Initially, a line of thunderstorms pushed across the area along a cold front, which gave Lubbock its initial burst of 0.16" of rain during the early morning hours of the 8th. However, as the front marched eastward toward the Rolling Plains, it began to slow down. The upper-level flow began to become more oriented to the south and east or parallel to the boundary. This helped to stream moisture across eastern portions of the area for several hours during the day on the 8th and created several additional rounds of showers and thunderstorms. As a result, Childress received much more rainfall than Lubbock, recording 1.50" on the 8th and 1.63” for the event. Locations to the south and east of Lubbock received the highest rainfall totals as Aspermont recorded just under 3.00" of rain for the event.

Another strong upper-level low that moved into the region from the Great Basin on the 26th and 27th provided a mechanism for a nice, slow precipitation event across the Southern Plains. Rainfall totals did vary across the area, though most locations did receive some beneficial rainfall greater than 0.50" to 0.75". Measured totals ranged from 0.21" at O’Donnell to 1.76" at Caprock Canyons State Park. Both the Lubbock and Childress received some appreciable rainfall totals and in fact, set new record rainfall totals of 0.92" and 1.43" respectively. In addition to the rainfall, temperature profiles across the southwestern Texas Panhandle and the northern South Plains were cold enough to support some snow. Light snow and sleet mixed in with the rain across much of the Caprock. Accumulations were light as most surfaces such as roadways and the ground were still above freezing, though a few locations up in the southern Panhandle received between 1-2" of wet snow. The Lubbock International Airport actually reported a trace of wet snow as well from a brief precipitation phase change over late in the event.

Despite some of the beneficial rainfall that occurred during October, extremely dry conditions continue to plague the region. However, because of some of the heavier rainfall the occurred across the southeastern Panhandle and northern Rolling Plains in October, the drought status there has been lowered to D-3 (Severe) for the time being. Still, a vast majority 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, despite some of the recent rainfall events, these severe to 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.

 

October Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Precipitation  1.34"  3.23"
Normal Precipitation  1.93"  2.25"
Departure From Normal  0.59" Below  0.98" Above
Monthly Ranking  55th Driest (since 1911)  25th Wettest (since 1924)
Wettest October  10.80" (1983)  9.91" (1983)
Driest October  0.00" (1992, 1989, 1966, 1952)  0.00" (1952, 1950)
Wettest Day (2011)  0.80" on the 27th  1.50" on the 8th
All-Time Wettest October Day  5.43" (October 19, 1983)  5.32" (October 20, 1983)

 

October Statistics Lubbock Childress
Total Snowfall  Trace  0.0"
Normal Snowfall  0.1"  0.1"
Departure From Normal  0.1 Below
 0.1 Below
Monthly Ranking  Tied For Least Snowiest  Tied For Least Snowiest
Snowiest October  7.5" (1976)  3.3" (1991)
Snowiest Day (October 2011)  Trace on the 27th
 None
All-Time Snowiest October Day  4.1" (October 21, 1911)  1.8 (October 30, 1991)

 
  Winds

October Statistics Lubbock Childress
Average Wind Speed (mph)  11.2  9.8
Normal Wind Speed (mph)  11.7  11.3
Highed Sustained Wind Speed (mph)  48 on the 17th  35 on the 6th
Highest Wind Gust (mph)  64 on the 17th  43 on the 7th

 

The Outlook for November, December, and January from the Climate Prediction Center



The three-month temperature outlook for the late fall and winter 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 late  fall and winter 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 November, 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 97% of the state had entered a D-3 (Extreme) drought. In addition, 88% 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 winter, significant drought conditions are expected to persist or even worsen across the Lone Star State. Click on the image for a larger version!

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