Dallas-Fort Worth flirting with a record low Friday

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The spring roller-coaster ride will race through a big dip later this week as yet another Arctic front spills across Dallas-Fort Worth, dropping the mercury into record territory early Friday.

The strong and fast-moving system is forecast to arrive Wednesday night, bringing with it a 60-percent chance of thunderstorms.

More notable will be a rapid chill down with a low of 48 expected for Thursday morning followed by a chilly dip to 40 degrees early Friday, said meteorologist Dan Shoemaker of the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office.

That cold plunge will be flirting with the May 3 record low of 41 degrees set in 1954.

But after the front zips through, the weekend weather for Mayfest in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park should be “about as good as it can get. It’s going to be really pleasant,” Shoemaker said, noting that Saturday and Sunday are expected to be mostly sunny with highs around 75.

“These fronts aren’t too unusual but this is one of the stronger ones. It’s a large scale front. Most of these fronts come from the Pacific but we’ve got an unusual upper-level low that is going to just park over the Midwest and pull all that cold air down. The whole middle part of the U.S. is going to see cool air,” Shoemaker said.

It will be a continuation of a month-long trend, with April temperatures in DFW a full 3 degrees lower than average.

The latest Arctic blast rolled through on April 24, when a low of 37 degrees shattered the old record by 4 degrees.

“Three degrees for the month is pretty significant. That’s what these cold Arctic fronts have done. We usually get warmer Pacific fronts in April. If this were winter, it would be really cold,” Shoemaker said.

The front will be moving too fast to bring much rain, he said.

“It’s not going to be one of these super-duper drenchers. We’re looking at about a quarter inch on average,” Shoemaker said. “It will help the growing season; even a tenth of an inch will help this time of year.”

Due to the cold air, there will be no threat of tornadoes but there is the possibility of hail from storms ahead of the cold front, he said.

The weather service has recorded 9.9 inches of rain so far this year at DFW Airport, more than an inch below average.

“Last year, we were down 4.88 inches so we’re still losing ground. We’re down nearly 6 inches over the last 16 months,” Shoemaker said.

Despite recent rains across much of the state, most of Texas remains mired in a relentless drought that stretches back to 2011.

Ninety-two percent of Texas is in moderate drought and 38 percent is in extreme drought and nearly 12 percent is in the exceptional category, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.

The drought is expected to persist over the next three months, with some improvement forecast for the eastern third of Texas, including the DFW area, according to the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center. The center predicts above normal temperatures through July.

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon isn’t optimistic about the drought breaking anytime soon.

“We’re getting into what is the wettest part of the year, but 2 or 3 inches isn’t going to do much for us,” he said Monday.

“Long-term it is still a tendency for below-average rainfall and warmer, too, for this summer,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981 Twitter: @stevecamp

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