A deadly swarm of May tornadoes was more destructive, but ice will go down as the most disruptive element of yet another wacky weather year in North Texas.
After back-to-back years of brutal heat and drought, cold weather, led by an epic December ice storm, was the hallmark of 2013, said Dan Huckabee, a climate specialist for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
Over the year, there were five daily record lows and five daily record low maximums recorded for Dallas-Fort Worth. To put that into perspective, there were only five record lows notched in the previous 10 years, Huckabee said.
It was almost like winter didn’t start until spring. From January through March the only records set were for high temperatures.
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But a big change started in April when six record lows or low maximums were recorded at DFW Airport to start the coolest spring since 1997, Huckabee said.
Overall temperatures were below normal from March through July.
Gardeners in Mineral Wells and Weatherford were bedeviled by late freezes in early May and DFW dipped into the 30s in May for the first time since 1903.
Summer stayed mild with two “cool” stretches in July. On the 15th, the mercury topped out at 74 degrees, the lowest high temperature for July in DFW since 1945.
But August was its usual self with sixteen 100-degree days, including a high of 105 on the 31st. September was equally toasty with overall temperatures 4.4 degrees warmer than normal.
Everything changed again in November with five straight days of wintry precipitation from Nov. 22-26. DFW was below 40 degrees for nearly 60 hours during the month, including three days with lows in the 20s, the most since November 1993.
But the Arctic blast that started on Dec. 5 and persisted for five days was the icing on the cake.
What was expected to be freezing rain turned into up to 4 inches of sleet that morphed into thick ice that tormented road crews and drivers. On Dec. 7, a record low high of 26 was recorded. The previous record of 33 was set in 1950.
“It was quite an even; it was certainly comparable to the February event in 2011,” Huckabee said. “I think the ice storm gets the edge over the May 15 tornado outbreak as the No. 1 weather event of 2013.”