Heat, Drought, and Wildfires of 2011

 

...2011 is now ranked as one of the warmest years ever on record for many locations across the four state region...

Below normal rainfall observed during the spring...And the record heat and extreme/exceptional drought observed throughout much of the summer andearly fall months of 2011...contributed to above normal monthly temperatures throughout much of the year. This has resulted in most locations recording one of the warmest years ever on
record. The table below lists the 2011 average temperature...departure from normal...and how they ranked in history as the warmest year on record:

Average monthly temperature for area climate sites

City

2011 Average Monthly temperature Departure from Normal Rank

Shreveport

(records since 1872)

68.2 ° F +2.5  ° F

T4th

(1927 & 2006)

Monroe

(records since 1930)

68.2 ° F +2.4 ° F 1st

Texarkana

(records since 1896)

66.0 ° F +2.1 ° F

T5th

(2005)

El dorado

(records since 1905)

64.4 ° F +0.9 ° F

T20th

(1945 & 2004)

Tyler

(records since 1896)

69.1 ° F +3.7 ° F

2nd

(behind 1921 - 69.6)

Longview

(records since 1902)

68.5 ° F +3.1 ° F

T1st

(1911)

Lufkin

(records since 1907)

68.9 ° F +2.1 ° F

2nd

(behind 1998 - 69.1)

 

The summer of 2011 will be remembered as the hottest on record for many locations with several sites setting records for both consecutive 100 degree days and total number of 100 degree days.

                                                 100 degree information for 2011

Image showing the number of days above 100 degrees, consecutive day streaks, days above 105 degrees F, and the number of record highs/high mins broken.

 


 

Over Labor Day weekend, Tropical Storm Lee made landfall across Southeast LA.  As a result, strong winds on the northwest side of Lee brought drier air in from the northeast which when combined with the 100 degree heat aided the most explosive wildfire days this area has ever seen.  2 people lost their lives from a fast moving wildfire in the Gladewater area and thousands were told to evacute across many areas due to either the wildfires or the thick heavy smoke which resulted from the fires.

 

Pictures from the Cass County - Bear Creek Fire which burned over 50,000 acres

Images courtesy Dave Hall - OEM Texarkana 

 The Bear Creek Fire was not the only fire to occur across the four state region.  National Weather Service StormData indicates that between May 2011 and October 2011, more than 94,000 acres burned across the region in 55 large wildfires with more than 200 structures destroyed.  **National Weather Service StormData only includes fires of 150 acres or more OR wildfires which caused injuries, fatalities or impacted structures.    There were hundredes of smaller fires (<150 acres) across the region in addition to the large fires.  In all, approximately 100,000 acres burned across the four state region in 2011 as a result of wildfires.

Pictures from fires in June 2011 in Deep East Texas

 

The smoke plumes became so large on some of the fires, that they were clearly visible on both radar and satellite imagery.  The images below illustrate how the fires were seen during the summer.

               

Smoke was clearly visible on satellite imagery in early September when the worst of the wildfires occurred.  NWS in Shreveport issued it's first ever Dense Smoke Advisory for portions of East Texas as a result of the thick smoke which reduced visibilities along I-20 and area highways.

 

Fires were also visible on radar imagery due to the large particles within the smoke being lofted thousands of feet into the air over the wildfires.  The image above is from June 18, 2011.

 


 Drought

2011 was on pace to become one of the driest years on record, however a near normal November and an above normal December in term of rainfall allowed 2011 to drop in the overall rankings.  The summer of 2011 will certainly be remembered for how hot and how dry it was with several locations recording their driest August and September on record.

2011 Precipitation Totals

City

2011 Total Precipitation Departure from Normal Rank

Shreveport

(records since 1872)

33.07" -18.34"

17th

Monroe

(records since 1930)

49.52" -4.50" ---

Texarkana

(records since 1896)

30.69" -18.96"

11th

El dorado

(records since 1905)

37.62" -15.30"

15th

Tyler

(records since 1896)

24.97" -20.82"

3rd

(24.01 in 1956 and 24.92 in 2005)

Longview

(records since 1902)

30.54" -17.01"

9th

Lufkin

(records since 1907)

33.77" -15.18"

21st

 

The drought of 2011 actually started in 2010 and can be traced back to March of 2010.  From March 2010 through December 2011, many locations ran large rainfall deficits.  The table below is a sampling from many sites across the four state region.

 As a result of the longer term drought, the Drought Monitor was maximized in terms of its severity during late October.  The image below is a snapshot from the drought monitor in October showing the D4-exceptional drought area encompassing most of Texas, Western LA and portions of southern AR.

 


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