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Weather across West Central Texas can change dramatically and is typically characterized by flash floods, drought, wildfires, hail, winter storms and tornadoes. 2011 will go down as the hottest summer on record. Below are five of the most significant weather events for 2011 that impacted the region from the National Weather Service Office in San Angelo.
1. Drought, wildfires and heat in West Central Texas; 2011.
2. Powerful winter storm and cold in Abilene and Big Country, Feb. 1-4, 2011.
3. Abilene hail storm, April 24, 2011.
3. Clyde downburst; May 1, 2011.
5. San Angelo flash flood; August 13, 2011.
"We are very sorry if you experienced injury or property damage this past year. Since the potential is always there for more devastating fires and storms, you should always be ready. You can also learn how your NWS is making every effort to prepare for extreme weather through its Weather Ready Nation Initiative at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation."
Here are a few safety tips.
1.) Know the name of your county and those around you.
2.) Have a means to receive forecasts, watches and warnings such as your local radio and TV station, cable, internet provider, cell phone, and/or NOAA Weather Radio 24 hours a day.
3.) Take appropriate action when a watch or warning is issued for your area.
A detailed summary of the Top 5 Extreme Weather Events in 2011
The historic drought that began on October of 2010, continued into the winter of 2011. However, recent fall rains and cooler weather have provided some relief. The U.S. Drought Monitor, issued through the National Drought Mitigation Center recently depicted exceptional drought over much of West Central Texas with some improvement to a moderate to severe drought in an area from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex extending southwest to San Angelo. The rest of West Central Texas to the west and south was either in an extreme or an exceptional drought.
The latest November Texas Crop Weather report from Texas A&M indicated the cotton harvest neared completion; only irrigated fields were being harvested. Growers were almost finished planting small grains. Some earlier planted fields were up and being grazed. Winter wheat was in poor condition due to low soil moisture. Rangeland and pasture conditions continued to decline. Hay was in short supply, and no grazing was available in many areas. Livestock producers further increased supplemental feeding of cattle.
Numerous wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of acres across a large part of drought stricken West Central Texas from January through September 2011 that tested every firefighter and first responder in West Central Texas. The Texas Forest Service reported that Coke County experienced 15 to 30 percent of total land burned. The Wildcat Fire, one of the largest wildfires, impacted Coke and Tom Green Counties. This fire encroached on the northern fringes of San Angelo before the winds shifted to the south then east. Thanks to fire fighters, no lives were lost and many buildings were saved from the Wildcat Fire and other wildfires that threatened the region. We are also thankful for the fall rains that gave the region a reprieve from the wildfires.
The Hottest Summer and the Driest Period on Record
San Angelo had one hundred days with high temperatures of 100 degrees or more which shattered the previous records dating back to 1907 (there were sporadic missing data before 1947). Abilene reported eighty-one days with high temperatures of 100 degrees or more and this also shattered the previous records dating back to 1886.
From October 1 of 2010 through September 30 of 2011, the Texas state climatologist stated â€śthis was the driest periods on record for the entire state of Texas.â€ť
A Powerful Winter Storm Shut Down the Big Country
In the beginning of February a deepening surface low, a frigid arctic front, and a digging upper level jet stream interacted with Gulf moisture to produce a variety of winter weather like thunder snow, thunder sleet, freezing rain, pea size hail, and locally heavy rainfall across a large part of West Central Texas.
This winter storm resulted in power outages and numerous school closings across the Big Country (schools were closed for several days in Abilene and many surrounding areas). Icy roads were very hazardous for several days and made it difficult for travel from Feb. 1-4. High winds also produced near whiteout conditions during the early morning hours of Feb. 1. A bitterly cold arctic air mass kept temperatures below freezing for almost four days. On one of those nights, the temperature dipped into the single digits across Abilene and the Big Country. This prolonged frigid air caused many broken water pipes across the region.
Abilene Hail Storm
A super cell thunderstorm produced Grapefruit size hail across the southern half of Abilene on April 25 and damaged or destroyed vehicle windshields and roofs of many homes and businesses.
A National Weather Service Survey found widespread significant wind damage in Callahan County and, specifically in the community of Clyde on May 1st. Wind speeds (estimated from damage) were likely to have been around 90 mph. These winds destroyed one manufactured home, and moved a nearby one slightly from its original location. A person living in the destroyed home was only slightly injured. Strong winds also uprooted numerous trees and roofs. A couple of other mobile homes were also moved and sustained roof damage. The downburst winds (strong descending winds from aloft that strike the ground, then spread out horizontally causing strong damaging winds) damaged approximately an 8 to 10 square mile area which included Clyde and areas to the southwest, north and east of town.
San Angelo Flash Flood
An outflow boundary from a complex of thunderstorms across North Texas produced heavy rain as it moved south across the Big Country during the night time on August 12. During the morning hours on August 13, the outflow boundary stalled over San Angelo. As a weaker boundary from the south collided with the stalled boundary in a very moist atmosphere, extremely heavy rainfall of 3 to 8 inches fell across the City of San Angelo and resulted in flash flooding.
Several vehicles were stranded or swept away at low water crossings. Fortunately, no one was killed. It was an extremely welcome rainfall, but it just fell too quickly. Hence, for a few hours many roads and low water crossings became impassible.