Storms bring DFW cool, though brief, reprieve from heat

Summer Heat Streak Winner: Audra Goyette of Fort Worth wins four NRH2O tickets for predicting that the triple-digit heat streak would end Aug. 11. Congratulations, Audra.

We had 251 entries in our Summer Heat Wave contest, and 6 percent predicted the correct date. The winner was chosen by a random draw via computer.

The streak is broken.

In downtown Fort Worth, claps of thunder, almost like applause, announced the end of consecutive days of triple-digit heat. The streak ended at 40 days, two shy of the Dallas-Fort Worth record, set in 1980, leaving it as the second-longest in the history books.

Cheers, oohs and aahs erupted in many places as the cooler front moved in with wind gusts and splashes of rain here and there.

The temperature had climbed to 96, but by 3 p.m., it slipped to a refreshing 84, the National Weather Service reported.

The break didn't last long. Before the afternoon was over, the mercury bounced back to 97 -- hot but no 100.

Some people were disappointed at suffering through such a long stretch of hot weather, only to wind up in second place.

"We needed a break," said Janie Menzies, sitting outside the Starbucks on Houston Street downtown. "But it would have been neat to break the record."

Denise Perona of Grapevine wouldn't have minded another 100-degree day. Perona, waiting for her twins to finish finding their classrooms at Colleyville Heritage High School, said she is used to the heat. When the cool front came through, she said, "I didn't notice much of a difference."

Xavier Hernandez wasn't among the sad.

Hernandez was sweeping up debris Thursday around Sundance Square when a shadow fell over him and a breeze brought the scent of rain.

"I saw it get cloudy," he said. "It got cool and windy."

Hernandez even felt it sprinkle for about five minutes.

"The breeze felt like it dropped the temperature about 10 degrees," he said.

Menzies said she knows why it happened.

"I was going to post this on Facebook: 'Juan and Kathy Rosario brought it with them,'" she said.

The culprits smiled and nodded. They had arrived at DFW Airport that morning from Cape Coral, Fla., where, Juan Rosario said, it's been under 100 and raining almost daily for two months.

The hot numbers

Even though one streak ended, 2011 still offers statistics of note.

Among them are records for daily high and low temperatures. In the first 10 days of August, five daily records were set or tied for highest temperatures and for the highest low temperatures. In July, no records were set for high temperatures, but on 12 days, the overnight low temperatures set or tied records.

So far, the average daily temperature from June 1 through Thursday beats the same period in 1980: 90 vs. 89.2.

But 1980 had higher average highs: -- 101.6 in 1980, compared with 100.7 this year.

Even over the 40-day streak, 1980 wins. The average high for the past 40 days is 103; in the same period of 1980, 104.1.

And for total triple-digit days in a year, this year's 47 are only No. 4. The mercury must top 100 22 more times for us to beat the 69-day record set in, of course, 1980.

Here we go again

Thursday's break was something of a surprise to forecasters.

John Lake, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said a line of storms that originated in Oklahoma and drifted south cooled off North Texas for a little while. Isolated showers and thunderstorms made towns west of Fort Worth momentarily damp -- half an inch of rain in Springtown, an inch in Alvord, for instance.

"It was a narrow line of storms, not a very coherent line," Lake said.

The clouds actually conspired with the high-pressure ridge that has kept temperatures in triple digits for almost six weeks, Lake said.

"DFW [Airport] didn't get any rain," he said. "The cloud cover ahead of the storm reduced the heating at the ground, which reduced the energy available to the storm. Basically, that means the ridge is able to overpower the storms, and they have a lot more trouble forming."

By 5 p.m., the temperature was back up to 95, Lake said. By 5:30 p.m., it was 97.

"It rose quickly because the ground is hot," he said.

Hernandez said this year has severely altered his outlook. He used to love summer.

But as the temperature began to rise again Thursday, Hernandez accepted his lot as a Texan.

"Life goes on," he said.

And so does this oppressive weather.

Today should dawn cloudy, Lake said, but the cover will dissipate by afternoon, and the high will be about 101.

"We'll be back into triple digits and no rain for the foreseeable future," he said. "There's a chance of afternoon and overnight thunderstorms Friday and Saturday."

Yeah, right.

Staff writer Steve Norder contributed to this report.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

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