Precipitation for March was well-below normal across west-central Texas (Figure 1). For much of the central and southern parts of the region, the monthly precipitation was less than one-half inch. These amounts were less than 25 percent of normal. For much of the Big Country area along and north of Interstate 20, the monthly precipitation was between 0.25 inches and 1 inch. These amounts were between 25 and 50 percent of normal. A few pockets northeast of a line from Colorado City to Coleman received between 1 and 1.5 inches, but these monthly amounts were still below normal.
Figure 1: Percent of Normal Precipitation for March, 2014.
Temperatures averaged below normal for the month, although to a lesser extent at San Angelo.
At Abilene Regional Airport, the average temperature for March was 55.1 degrees. This was 1.3 degrees below the normal average temperature of 56.4 degrees. Total precipitation for Abilene in March was 0.67 inches. This was 1.07 inches below the normal of 1.74 inches.
At San Angelo Regional Airport, the average temperature for March was 57.5 degrees. This was 0.3 degrees below the normal average temperature of 57.8 degrees. Total precipitation for San Angelo was only 0.02 inches. This was 1.45 inches below the normal of 1.50 inches. * This tied for the 7th driest March on record for San Angelo. *
At Abilene, a record low temperature was tied on the 3rd, and a record high temperature was tied on the 11th. At San Angelo, a record low maximum temperature was set on the 3rd.
The beginning of the month was highlighted by a major temperature change and a winter weather event. With gusty south to southwest winds on the 1st, temperatures climbed into the 80s for highs across most of West Central Texas. Readings were somewhat cooler (mid to upper 70s) for the northern Big Country. At several locations across the eastern half of the region south of Interstate 20, temperatures reached the 90 degree mark for highs.
A change in the upper level flow pattern allowed an arctic cold front to advance quickly south through the Plains states and into Texas. This front swept south through West Central Texas during the late evening and overnight hours of the 1st and 2nd. Behind this front, temperatures plunged into the 20s and 30s by the morning of the 2nd, accompanied by brisk north winds. For much of West Central Texas, the temperature drop from the afternoon of the 1st to the morning of the 2nd was in the range of 55 to 65 degrees.
With the approach of an upper level disturbance, mixed winter precipitation occurred across northern and sections of West Central Texas. 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. Temperatures continued to slowly fall through the day (2nd), and 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.
Early morning lows on the 3rd were mostly in the teens. North-northeast winds lowered wind chill values to between 3 below zero and 4 above zero across the Big Country. Farther to the south, wind chill values were in the single digits during the early morning hours. Temperatures remained cold on the 3rd, with highs in the 30s to lower 40s.
Precipitation throughout the month was light, occurring on several occasions when weak upper level disturbances moved across the region. Rather dry airmasses occupied the region during the month. With mostly clear skies, large temperature swings occurred between the early morning lows and afternoon highs, on several days.
Thunderstorms occurred on a few days during March, with a severe weather event on the 15th. With unstable air and the approach of an upper level disturbance, severe thunderstorms occurred ahead of a dryline and near a stationary front across the Big Country and northern Heartland. Large hail was the predominant type of severe weather reported. The largest reported hail was hen egg size, in Brown County one mile east of May. Golfball size hail occurred at Cross Cut (Brown County), and 4 miles north-northeast of Burkett and 7 miles northeast of Silver Valley (both in Coleman County). At several locations, hail covered the ground. In all, a total of 11 severe weather reports were received for this event. Scattered locations across the Big Country, northeastern Concho Valley and northern Heartland received rainfall amounts between one-half inch and 1.5 inches.
The below radar animation (Figure 2) shows the coverage and track of the storms for this event, between 4 PM and 6:15 PM CDT, on March 15. In all, a total of 11 severe weather reports were received for this event.
Figure 2: Animated National Weather Service San Angelo Radar Imagery, for March 15.
Scattered locations across the Big Country, northeastern Concho Valley and northern Heartland received rainfall amounts between one-half inch and 1.5 inches (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Rainfall for the 24-hour period, ending 7 AM CDT, on Saturday, March 15, 2013.
Windy conditions occurred on a number of days, and peak wind gusts of 40 mph or greater were recorded on several days during the month at Abilene and San Angelo (Table 1).
|Location||Peak Wind (mph)||Date|
|San Angelo||43||Mar 11|
|San Angelo||43||Mar 15|
|San Angelo||45||Mar 16|
|San Angelo||46||Mar 26|
|San Angelo||44||Mar 27|
|San Angelo||42||Mar 31|
Table 1: March Dates with Peak Wind Gusts 40 mph or greater at Abilene and San Angelo.