West Central Texas Weather Summary for 2014
The background map in Figure 1 shows the geographic regions of west-central Texas, which are referenced in this annual weather summary.
Figure 1: Geographic Regions of West-Central Texas.
Total precipitation for the year varied from above to below normal across west-central Texas. Figure 2 shows the percentage of normal precipitation for 2014.
Figure 2: Percent of Normal Precipitation for the year 2014.
The yearly precipitation was above normal across northern Crockett and Irion Counties, extending northeast into Runnels and Coleman Counties. Some locations across the Heartland area received more than 30 inches in 2014. The yearly precipitation was below normal across most of the Big Country, northern Concho Valley, and across much of the area southeast of a line from Ozona to Eldorado to Eden to Richland Springs.
Temperatures for the year averaged above normal at San Angelo and Abilene.
At Abilene Regional Airport, the average annual temperature for 2014 was 65.4 degrees. This was 0.8 degrees above the normal average temperature of 64.6 degrees. Total precipitation for the year was 15.02 inches. This was 9.80 inches below the normal average of 24.82 inches. This marks the 9th driest year on record at Abilene. Total snowfall for the year at Abilene was 1.9 inches. This was 3.3 inches below the normal yearly snowfall of 5.2 inches.
At San Angelo Regional Airport, the average annual temperature for 2014 was 66.6 degrees. This was 1.1 degrees above the normal average temperature of 65.5 degrees. Total precipitation for the year was 16.71 inches. This was 4.54 inches below the normal average of 21.25 inches. Total snowfall for the year at San Angelo was 0.1 inches. This was 2.3 inches below the normal yearly snowfall of 2.4 inches.
The annual total number of days where high temperatures reached or exceeded 100 degrees include 19 at San Angelo, 15 at Abilene, and 7 at Junction. In comparison, the average annual number of days where high temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees is 18 at San Angelo, and 12 at Abilene.
* Winter Weather *
The upper level pattern setup across the U.S. was favorable for a number of intrusions of very cold air south into Texas, during January and February. West-central Texas was affected on three separate occasions during January. The coldest temperatures for the year occurred on January 28 at Abilene (record-tying 10 degrees), and on January 29 at San Angelo (record setting 9 degrees). Despite these very cold air intrusions, temperatures for January averaged only slightly below normal. This was influenced by the well above normal high temperatures (in the 70s), which occurred on 12 days of the month in San Angelo and Junction, and on 7 days of the month at Abilene.
Precipitation was well-below normal in January and February. The driest January on record was tied at Abilene, and the third driest January was tied at San Angelo. San Angelo also recorded its 10th driest February.
Even with the overall dryness, winter weather events affected the region, mainly in February. A significant mixed precipitation event occurred across the northern half of west-central Texas on February 2, when a strong upper level disturbance entered the region and interacted with the cold air. The highest impacts from this event occurred across the Big Country area along and north of Interstate 20, where travel conditions became very hazardous. Heavy snow occurred across the northwestern Big country in parts of Fisher, Haskell and northwestern Jones Counties. A mix of snow and sleet affected the area from Sweetwater northeast to Anson and Throckmorton. Snow, sleet and freezing rain all occurred in Taylor County, including the Abilene area. For the southeastern Big Country from Albany south to Baird, a mix of sleet and freezing rain occurred. Farther to the south, light freezing rain occurred across the Concho Valley and northern Heartland areas.
On February 6, light snow occurred across roughly the northwestern half of West Central Texas, mainly northwest of an Ozona to San Angelo to Cross Plains line. Snowfall amounts of generally 1-2 inches occurred across the Big Country along and north of Interstate 20.
A prolonged period of freezing drizzle occurred on February 10-11, and was combined with temperatures several degrees below freezing. This resulted in extensive icing (thin glaze) on roads across the Big Country, Concho Valley and Heartland areas. With these road conditions, numerous traffic accidents were reported.
A late season winter weather event occurred in early March, following a strong cold frontal passage on March 1. With the approach of an upper level disturbance, mixed winter precipitation occurred across northern and central sections of West Central Texas on March 2. The precipitation was mostly freezing drizzle and intermittent light freezing rain, but was mixed with sleet and light snow at times across the Big Country. Patchy freezing drizzle developed as far south as Interstate 10. Slick spots developed on roads in Nolan, Haskell, and Shackelford Counties. Otherwise, accumulations were minor and mainly on elevated surfaces across the area generally north of a line from Sterling City to San Angelo to Cross Plains.
* Spring and Severe Weather *
The dry pattern with well-below normal precipitation continued through March, April, and the first half of May. The 7th driest March on record was tied at San Angelo. Windy conditions occurred on a number of days in March, when peak wind gusts of 40 mph or greater were recorded at San Angelo and Abilene.
A severe weather event occurred on March 15 across the Big Country and northern Heartland, with large hail of golfball to hen egg size reported. In April, severe weather affected Haskell and Throckmorton Counties on the 1st, Brown County on the 5th, Irion County on the 6th, the Big Country and northern Heartland areas on the 13th, and the southeastern part of west-central Texas on the 21st. Severe storms occurred in parts of the northern half of west-central Texas on the 23rd.
Gusty winds occurred in west-central Texas on April 27-29 with blowing dust and very dry conditions. With this setup, wildfires occurred near Buffalo Gap (Taylor County), and near Lake Sweetwater (Nolan County).
Significant heavy rainfall and severe weather occurred over the Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 23-26). This was brought about as a late season upper level low pressure system moved slowly east across northern New Mexico and into the Texas Panhandle.
On May 24th, a number of severe storms affected the western Big Country, Concho Valley, and Crockett County. Brief tornado touchdowns were reported in Crockett County, 41 miles west-northwest of Ozona and 38 miles west-southwest of Barnhart. In Irion County, a tornado crossed open country near oilfields 12 miles north-northeast of Barnhart. Large hail (to golfball size) and damaging winds were reported with other severe storms.
Extensive severe weather occurred across central and southern sections of west-central Texas, from the evening of the 26th into the post-Midnight hours of the 27th.
While the heavy rainfall brought short-term benefits to the drought stricken region, it also caused localized flash flooding. Extensive street flooding occurred in San Angelo and Wall.
The heaviest rainfall (6-10 inches) occurred across parts of the Concho Valley and Heartland, and in isolated pockets across the southern third of west-central Texas. Rainfall totals over 10 inches occurred in parts of Tom Green County, east and southeast of San Angelo. New daily record rainfall was set at San Angelo on May 24-26.
The water runoff from this rainfall increased water levels on area reservoirs across central sections of west-central Texas. This included the O.H. Ivie and Twin Buttes Reservoirs, Lake Nasworthy, and to a lesser extent the O.C. Fisher Reservoir.
Major severe weather events occurred on June 11th (affecting San Angelo) and June 12th (affecting Abilene and Rochelle).
A writeup for these severe weather events (with links to additional information) can be accessed here. The San Angelo Regional Airport recorded a peak wind gust of 53 mph on the 11th, and the Abilene Regional Airport recorded a peak wind gust of 60 mph on the 12th.
* Summer Weather *
Several factors led to a lack of days with 100-degree temperatures across west-central Texas in June. Upper level high pressure systems (which typically bring dry and very hot conditions at this time of year) only temporarily affected west-central Texas, and had not become persistent, dominating features over the region. In addition, the widespread rainfall from late May into June increased the soil moisture and rejuvenated the vegetation. This led to increased evaporation and transpiration, with more moisture in the atmosphere. Moreover, southeast low-level flow from the Gulf of Mexico occurred on a number of days, helping to keep the air moist across the region. The increased atmospheric moisture resulted in lower daytime temperatures with humid conditions.
Temperatures stayed below 100 degrees for most of July. Typically, cold fronts only reach west-central Texas on rare occasions in July. For July of this year, however, cold fronts entered the area during the early and middle parts of the month, and again toward the end of the month. This helped to break up the periods of hotter weather. This was brought about by unusual developments with the upper level flow pattern across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes. These upper level pattern changes also prevented upper level high pressure systems from becoming established for long time periods over our region.
The most notable rainfall for July occurred in the middle of the month. A weak cold front moved south into west-central Texas on the 14th before stalling. The front lifted back north as a warm front on the 15th. An upper level disturbance moved southeast into the area late on the 15th and 16th, along with a stronger cold frontal passage. Showers and thunderstorms occurred with these features, and rainfall was locally heavy. Considerable street flooding was reported in San Saba, on the evening of the 16th. Considerable street flooding also occurred in Abilene, on the morning of the 17th. Strong thunderstorm winds on the 16th caused damage in Mcculloch County (2 miles north-northeast of Melvin), and in Callahan County (Cross Plains). Funnel clouds were reported around San Angelo on the 17th, but were not associated with supercell thunderstorms. Rather, these occurred in a moist, tropical air environment with much less risk of touching down and causing damage.
Hot and dry conditions occurred late in July, with the prevailing influence of a strong upper level high pressure system over the region. On some of the days, afternoon high temperatures were in the 100 to 105 degree range at some locations.
Periods of hot and dry weather occurred in August when upper level high pressure systems were in close proximity to Texas. The hottest temperatures for the month occurred on August 6-10, 14-16, and 24-26. On these occasions, highs were at or above 100 degrees across various parts of west-central Texas.
Showers and thunderstorms occurred in August mainly with two types of pattern changes. When the upper level high pressure systems shifted west of the region and into the western U.S., the change allowed weak upper level disturbances and weak cold fronts to move south into the region and bring scattered showers and thunderstorms. On some occasions, the upper level high pressure systems weakened and allowed showers and thunderstorms to develop, with the presence of weak upper level disturbances and surface boundaries. The more notable rainfall amounts and coverage occurred on August 11, 16-19, and 28-30.
* Fall Weather *
Precipitation for September varied from well-above to well-below normal across west-central Texas, while temperatures averaged above normal. Scattered showers and thunderstorms with locally heavy rainfall occurred on September 5-8. With a somewhat unsettled pattern September 15-20, scattered showers and a few thunderstorms occurred, and some of the rainfall was locally heavy.
Hot and dry conditions occurred on several days during the early part of the month. Record high temperatures were set at Abilene and San Angelo on September 10, and a record high minimum temperature was tied at Abilene.
The passage of a strong cold front on September 12 brought an early taste of Fall to the area. Temperatures on the 12th dropped from the 60s into the 50s across the Big Country, accompanied by cloudy skies and gusty north winds. Farther south, temperatures across the Concho Valley and Heartland areas dropped into the 60s during the afternoon and evening. The cool air remained over the area on the 13th.
In October, precipitation was well-below normal across much of west-central Texas, and temperatures averaged well-above normal. Abilene recorded its 6th warmest October, while San Angelo tied its 7th warmest October with two other years. In addition, San Angelo recorded 13 days during the month with high temperatures 90 degrees or above. This tied the record for the highest number of days in October with highs 90 degrees or above.
A severe weather event occurred on October 10, with the approach of an upper level disturbance and arrival of a strong cold front into an unstable airmass. Most of the severe weather occurred across the northern Concho Valley and northern Heartland areas. A total of 21 severe weather reports were received for this event.
November was marked by an active weather pattern. Precipitation for the month was well-above normal across a large part of west-central Texas, and San Angelo recorded its 10th wettest November (3.04 inches). Most of this precipitation came from a wet weather event early in the month. A widespread and beneficial rain event occurred November 4-5. Several factors came together to bring about this notable event for November. A strong upper level storm system slowly approached from the southwestern states, with southwest flow developing aloft over Texas and Mexico. With this setup, moisture aloft was pulled into Texas from a late season tropical system in the Eastern Pacific. Low-level moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was incorporated into the region during the previous 1-2 days. A cold front moved slowly south across west-central Texas on the 4th, helping to focus an area of showers and thunderstorms across the area. New daily rainfall records were set on the 4th at San Angelo (2.48 inches) and Abilene (1.99 inches).
An abrupt change to much colder temperatures occurred, with passage of a strong cold front November 10-11. After highs in the upper 70s to mid 80s across much of the area on the 10th, daytime temperatures were 30 to 40 degrees colder on the 11th. This change was brought about by an unseasonably cold outbreak, which affected much of the U.S. from the Rockies into the eastern states. The first widespread freeze of the season occurred on the early morning hours of the 12th and 13th. Lows were in the 20s areawide on the 13th.
A light winter precipitation event occurred on November 16, which affected much of the northern half of west-central Texas. This occurred as a strong upper level disturbance approached the southern Plains and interacted with cold air. Light freezing rain and drizzle affected the Big Country area along and north of Interstate 20, followed by light snow. Snow accumulations were less than one inch, and the first measurable snowfall of the season was recorded in Abilene. With temperatures below freezing, however, the wintry precipitation resulted in hazardous travel conditions across the Big Country as roads became icy. Cold air remained over the area into the 18th.
Showers and thunderstorms occurred November 22, with the approach of an upper level storm system from the southwestern states and northern Mexico. Most of the showers and storms occurred northeast of a line from Barnhart to Eldorado to Mason. A few of the storms contained small hail, and some of the rainfall was heavy. Following departure of this storm system, gusty west-northwest winds developed across much of west-central Texas on the 23rd. Peak wind gusts between 35 mph and 50 mph were recorded at a number of locations.
In December, temperatures averaged well-above normal. The 2nd warmest December on record was tied at San Angelo, and the 10th warmest December was recorded at Abilene. Precipitation for the month was below normal across most of west-central Texas. The main rain event occurred on the 23rd. A significant ice event occurred at the end of the month (December 30-31), with much colder temperatures. Areas of freezing drizzle and some freezing rain occurred with temperatures dropping well-below freezing. This resulted in icy conditions across west-central Texas, with some of the worst conditions in the San Angelo area. With ice-covered roads, many traffic accidents were reported. An increase in hospital admissions in San Angelo was partly due to injuries from people falling on the ice.