January 4, 2014

Coldest weather in 3 years expected to howl through DFW

The Arctic front will add to a jack-rabbit start to winter in DFW this season, with a record 24 freezes recorded before Dec. 31.

Get the long johns back out: The coldest weather in three years will howl through Dallas-Fort Worth over the next few days.

The same Arctic air that will put a frosty bite on football fans in Green Bay on Sunday will make for miserable conditions here, too, with 20- to 25-mph winds pushing wind chill readings to as low as 8 to 13 degrees.

“It’s going to be bitterly cold at times. You’ve got cold that moved through the East Coast and what we are going to get hit with is going to go through there again. It’s a one-two-three punch and this will be the third punch,” said Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

Temperatures are expected to drop to as low as 19 in the Metroplex and to 15 in areas north and west of DFW early Monday. That would make for the lowest readings in the region since Feb. 10, 2011, when the mercury dropped to 15 degrees four days after the Super Bowl was played in Arlington.

Monday’s high will hover right at freezing before dropping into the teens early Tuesday, Harris said.

“We’ll get into the mid-40s if we are lucky on Tuesday,” he said.

Overnight lows will climb into the upper 30s early Wednesday before a warmer and wetter system arrives that will bring a 30 percent chance of rain through Friday.

With daytime highs in the 50s, there are no concerns about icing with that system, Harris said.

The Arctic front will add to a jack-rabbit start to winter in DFW this season.

DFW has already endured two bouts of the much-feared “wintry mix,” including a weeklong ice event in early December. But more persistent has been the steady hum of furnaces.

For the season through Dec. 31, a record 24 freezes were notched in DFW, edging the old mark of 23 set in 1989 and 2000, according to the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the record of 62 freezes set in 1977-78, said Dan Huckaby, a weather service climate specialist in Fort Worth.

Overall, November was 3.1 degrees below normal, while December was a hefty 4 degrees below normal, with an average temperature of 43.1 degrees, chilly enough for No. 12 in the record book.

But that can’t hold a candle to the record-setting December of 1983, when the average was 34.8 and the average low was 26.1.

During the deep freeze of ’83, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport recorded 295 hours of below-freezing temperatures. Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth both froze over, and Fort Worth coughed up $1.5 million just to repair frozen waterlines.

Across Texas, damage from the extreme cold was estimated at $50 million to $100 million.

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