Christmas Storms

RowlettTornado01

It was a terrible Christmas for sure. The warm Chrsitmas last week made it felt like late Spring or early Summer. Christmas was very warm throughout America, east of the Rocky Mountains. The warm weather could not last forever in Winter. Cold air from the north came and it clashed with the warm air. That leads to severe weather including tornadoes.

Christmas2015_SurfaceTemperatureAnomaly_NA

The Eastern two thirds of America is abnormally warm. However, the warm and humid air by itself does not create storms. It needs lift. There is a large upper level trough to the west and upper level ridging to the east. That kind of setup is favorable for severe weather. The upper level trough brings in cold air from Canada and Alaska. The upper level ridging keeps things warm throughout America.

Christmas2015_500mb_GeopotentialHeightAnomaly_NA

The day before Christmas Eve, known as Festivus, severe weather hit the Southeast and Midwest. It mainly centered around Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, and Missouri. There were numerous reports of tornadoes, hail, and strong wind. Christmas Eve had tornadoes hit the Southeast, Alabama and Mississippi. Once the tornadoes and storms past, 15 people lost their life. It is not over yet.

Christmas2015TennesseeTornado01

Christmas2015TennesseeTornado02

Christmas sees more tornadoes and severe weather in the Southeast, again over Alabama. The tornadoes do not stop there. The day after Christmas, tornadoes strike the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. A large EF-4 tornado hits Garland and Rowlett, destroying houses in its path. Once it is all over, 11 people lost their life.

RowlettTornado02

RowlettTornado03

Christmas2015Storm

There is also flooding from heavy rain. The heavy rain is mostly over Southeast Alabama, Southwest Missouri, Northeast Oklahoma, and Northwest Arkansas. The heavy rain is from the same storm system and warm air clashing. Many areas see 6 to 12 inches of rain in a 7 day period. Southeast Alabama saw as much as 19 inches of rain in 7 days! That is a lot for Winter! Then floodings have claimed at least 18 lives. Many areas in Missouri could see record flooding on par with 1973 and 1993.

20151228_7Day_Rainfall_Total

To make matters worse, there is an epic blizzard that hits New Mexico and West Texas. Many areas see 6 to 12 inches with isolated totals of 15 inches of snow. Talk about an epic blizzard right there!

Christmas2015ElPasoSnow

Christmas went from Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter all at once! Talk about crazy weather! This is what El Nino can do to our weather. My Winter forecast had a higher chance for severe weather for the South and Southeast. I think this Winter will be known as the Winter of severe weather. It is not even January and February yet.

RowlettTornado04

This Christmas is a tragic one for 43 families. At least 43 people have lost their life in this severe storm. Thankfully, severe storms around Christmas are rare.

Christmas 2011

It is almost Christmas and wonder what it is like in Southeast Texas? Here are weather records that goes back to 1921. Keep in mind that the official weather station for Houston has moved from Downtown Houston to Bush Interncontinental Airport.

Houston Weather Branch 1921-1968

Year High Low Average Rainfall
1921 53 31 42 0
1922 75 51 63 0
1923 59 48 53.5 0
1924 37 27 32 0
1925 59 45 52 T
1926 48 33 40.5 0.28
1927 56 43 49.5 0.01
1928 58 43 50.5 0
1929 69 41 55 0
1930 58 46 52 1.31
1931 70 53 61.5 0
1932 68 50 59 0
1933 74 59 66.5 0
1934 78 64 71 T
1935 57 43 50 T
1936 72 58 65 0
1937 75 61 68 0
1938 51 46 48.5 1.42
1939 45 41 43 1.81
1940 70 54 62 0.48
1941 67 52 59.5 0.46
1942 79 67 73 0
1943 38 35 36.5 0.01
1944 77 65 71 0.29
1945 62 46 54 0
1946 73 50 61.5 0
1947 51 34 42.5 0
1948 64 41 52.5 0
1949 65 46 55.5 T
1950 74 53 63.5 0
1951 75 61 68 0.13
1952 54 42 48 0
1953 55 33 44 0
1954 70 57 63.5 T
1955 79 63 71 0
1956 61 41 51 0
1957 67 53 60 0.32
1958 54 42 48 0.05
1959 63 54 58.5 T
1960 65 47 56 0
1961 63 42 52.5 0
1962 57 48 52.5 0.04
1963 70 45 57.5 0
1964 82 59 70.5 0
1965 57 40 48.5 0
1966 48 40 44 0.13
1967 64 48 56 0
1968 66 48 57 0

Bush Intercontinental Airport 1969-2010

Year High Low Average Rainfall
1969 69 41 55 0
1970 65 39 52 0
1971 73 59 66 0
1972 66 34 50 0
1973 51 45 48 T
1974 51 43 47 0.12
1975 46 35 40.5 T
1976 61 45 53 0.59
1977 59 39 49 0
1978 66 30 48 0
1979 70 33 51.5 0
1980 50 30 40 0
1981 56 33 44.5 0
1982 74 51 62.5 1.64
1983 28 11 19.5 0
1984 64 49 56.5 0.01
1985 45 29 37 0
1986 68 41 54.5 0
1987 78 51 64.5 0.04
1988 65 50 57.5 T
1989 61 20 40.5 0
1990 44 26 35 0
1991 56 37 46.5 0
1992 62 51 56.5 T
1993 64 33 48.5 0
1994 64 34 49 0
1995 60 42 51 0
1996 59 32 45.5 0
1997 59 38 48.5 0
1998 41 31 36 0
1999 58 36 47 0
2000 57 48 52.5 T
2001 54 33 43.5 0
2002 50 32 41 0
2003 61 43 52 T
2004 49 32 40.5 0
2005 69 44 56.5 0
2006 53 39 46 0.01
2007 62 33 47.5 0
2008 74 60 67 0
2009 49 32 40.5 0
2010 46 37 41.5 T

The Ghost of Christmas Past sometimes has to deal with rain and other times has to wear shorts. The Ghost of Christmas Past has only dealt with snow once in 2004. Snow on Christmas is not likely this year. Rain will be main problem this time. Santa Claus better have rain gear to wear for the rainy Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve 2010 was wet, especially at night. So, the Ghost of Christmas Past does return.

What Is Christmas Like In Southeast Texas

Christmas is upon us again. It is a time to reflect and celebrate and be jolly. What is Christmas typically like in Houston? The Ghost of Christmas Past can either bring cold, warm, dry, or wet Christmas. There are no official records of snow on Christmas Day. The closest was on December 24, 2004, when it snowed a great deal, especially southwest of Houston, where Victoria got up to 13 inches of snow. It seems generally it is cold and clear on Christmas.

Here are weather records that goes back to 1921. Keep in mind that the official weather station for Houston has moved from Downtown Houston to Bush Interncontinental Airport.

Houston Weather Branch 1921-1968

Year High Low Average Rainfall
1921 53 31 42 0
1922 75 51 63 0
1923 59 48 53.5 0
1924 37 27 32 0
1925 59 45 52 T
1926 48 33 40.5 0.28
1927 56 43 49.5 0.01
1928 58 43 50.5 0
1929 69 41 55 0
1930 58 46 52 1.31
1931 70 53 61.5 0
1932 68 50 59 0
1933 74 59 66.5 0
1934 78 64 71 T
1935 57 43 50 T
1936 72 58 65 0
1937 75 61 68 0
1938 51 46 48.5 1.42
1939 45 41 43 1.81
1940 70 54 62 0.48
1941 67 52 59.5 0.46
1942 79 67 73 0
1943 38 35 36.5 0.01
1944 77 65 71 0.29
1945 62 46 54 0
1946 73 50 61.5 0
1947 51 34 42.5 0
1948 64 41 52.5 0
1949 65 46 55.5 T
1950 74 53 63.5 0
1951 75 61 68 0.13
1952 54 42 48 0
1953 55 33 44 0
1954 70 57 63.5 T
1955 79 63 71 0
1956 61 41 51 0
1957 67 53 60 0.32
1958 54 42 48 0.05
1959 63 54 58.5 T
1960 65 47 56 0
1961 63 42 52.5 0
1962 57 48 52.5 0.04
1963 70 45 57.5 0
1964 82 59 70.5 0
1965 57 40 48.5 0
1966 48 40 44 0.13
1967 64 48 56 0
1968 66 48 57 0

Bush Intercontinental Airport 1969-2009

Year High Low Average Rainfall
1969 69 41 55 0
1970 65 39 52 0
1971 73 59 66 0
1972 66 34 50 0
1973 51 45 48 T
1974 51 43 47 0.12
1975 46 35 40.5 T
1976 61 45 53 0.59
1977 59 39 49 0
1978 66 30 48 0
1979 70 33 51.5 0
1980 50 30 40 0
1981 56 33 44.5 0
1982 74 51 62.5 1.64
1983 28 11 19.5 0
1984 64 49 56.5 0.01
1985 45 29 37 0
1986 68 41 54.5 0
1987 78 51 64.5 0.04
1988 65 50 57.5 T
1989 61 20 40.5 0
1990 44 26 35 0
1991 56 37 46.5 0
1992 62 51 56.5 T
1993 64 33 48.5 0
1994 64 34 49 0
1995 60 42 51 0
1996 59 32 45.5 0
1997 59 38 48.5 0
1998 41 31 36 0
1999 58 36 47 0
2000 57 48 52.5 T
2001 54 33 43.5 0
2002 50 32 41 0
2003 61 43 52 T
2004 49 32 40.5 0
2005 69 44 56.5 0
2006 53 39 46 0.01
2007 62 33 47.5 0
2008 74 60 67 0
2009 49 32 40.5 0

Here is a chart of highs and lows on Christmas in Houston.

Average Probabilities
Overall (1921-2009)
Any Rainfall
Every 2.8 years

+1 Inch Rainfall
Every 22.3 years

32°F or Below
Every 6.9 years

Bush Intercontinental Airport (1969-2009)
Any Rainfall
Every 3.4 years

+1 Inch Rainfall
Every 41 years

32°F or Below
Every 3.7 years

Interesting to note that when the official station was in Downtown Houston, it only saw two 32 or below lows.

Here are Christmas statistics.

All

Temperature
Highs
Average High
61.2

Median High
62

Standard Deviation
10.6

Lows
Average Low
43.3

Median Low
43

Standard Deviation
10.6

Lowest Low
11°F 1983

Highest Low
67°F 1942

Highest High
82°F 1964

Lowest High
28°F 1983

Rainfall
Average Rainfall
0.12

Median
0

Standard Deviation
0.36

Wettest
1.81 1939

Since, weather stations have moved, the statistical record will be affected and as a result, I look at two different recording stations.

Houston WB 1921-1968

Temperature
Highs
Average High
63.2

Median High
64

Standard Deviation
10.7

Lows
Average Low
47.7

Median Low
46.5

Standard Deviation
9.4

Lowest Low
27°F 1924

Highest Low
67°F 1942

Highest High
82°F 1964

Lowest High
37°F 1924

Rainfall
Average Rainfall
0.16

Median
0

Standard Deviation
0.4

Wettest
1.81 1939

Bush Intercontinental Airport 1969-2009

Temperature
Highs
Average High
58.8

Median High
60

Standard Deviation
10.2

Lows
Average Low
38.2

Median Low
37

Standard Deviation
9.7

Lowest Low
11°F 1982

Highest Low
60°F 2008

Highest High
78°F 1987

Lowest High
28°F 1983

Rainfall
Average Rainfall
0.07

Median
0

Standard Deviation
0.29

Wettest
1.64 1982

Notice that the weather station in Downtown Houston is warmer and wetter than at Bush Intercontinental Airport. It comes to show that there are differences in temperature and rainfall. For example, it is warmer and wetter in Downtown Houston than at Bush Intercontinental Airport.