Weather-wise, it was a March to remember for many North Texans — and not in a good way.
Two hailstorms across Dallas-Fort Worth totaled $1.1 billion in estimated losses.
Nine tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office in its 46-county region. The March average is three.
“I can't recall this early a start,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas, an industry trade group.
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It may just be a warmup for the rest of spring. Historically, April and May are far stormier and wetter.
Certainly if we're going to have severe weather April and May are the prime time for those events to occur.
Matt Stalley, National Weather Service meteorologist
And although March’s rainfall of 2.67 inches at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was about an inch below normal, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook forecasts above-normal precipitation for most of Texas through May.
“Certainly if we're going to have severe weather April and May are the prime time for those events to occur,” National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Stalley said.
A target on DFW
March seemed so rough because of where the storms struck.
“I think the thing that magnified it is the focus on the Metroplex this month,” Stalley said. “Basically, you had three events right in the heart of the Metroplex.”
$1.1 billion in damages caused by hailstorms in North Texas in March.
The month started with storms on March 7 and 8 that struck west and southwest of Fort Worth, bringing tornadoes to Cool (Parker County), Stephenville (Erath County) and Tolar (Hood County).
Then, storms on March 17 left a destructive path of hail from Benbrook to Fort Worth to Arlington. An estimated 50,000 vehicles were damaged.
Less than a week later, on March 23, storms included an EF-0 tornado in Haslet along with hail that hammered Denton and Collin counties.
The last round of storms rumbled through the area on Wednesday, bringing hail and strong winds as well as flooding to parts of Parker, Tarrant, Johnson and Ellis counties.
For the second straight year, a wet spring means the lakes should be full going into the hot summer, said David Marshall, director of engineering and operations support for the Tarrant Regional Water District, which provides raw water to almost all of Tarrant County.
“We are anticipating being at 100 percent or more through mid-June,” Marshall said.
Flooding expected this spring
State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said the rainfall has been above normal across all of Texas from Nov. 1 through March 30. The final numbers won’t be available until next week.
“This will be somewhere between the 10th- to 15th-wettest November though March on record for Texas,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
Though tlight rain fell Friday, the outlook for the weekend and next week is dry and sunny.
“It seems to be favoring wetter-than-normal conditions, but the next couple of weeks may be dry before we get in an overall wet track toward the middle of the month,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
The Climate Prediction Center’s spring flooding outlook forecasts parts of North Texas, including the Trinity River, and most of East Texas at risk of moderate flooding.
Since this is an El Niño year, my guess is we will have a higher probability of a larger flood.
David Marshall of the Tarrant Regional Water District
If the long-range forecasts prove correct, the Tarrant Regional Water District is prepared for a second straight year of spring flooding thanks to El Niño, a phenomenon thatoccurs when water in the Pacific Ocean is warmer than normal. That often brings storms to Texas, but El Niño is weakening and is predicted to disappear by early summer.
“I do expect some,” Marshall said. “Every rainfall this year except [Wednesday] has required we move into flood mode. Whether we have levels that cause damage will really be dependent upon the intensity of the rainfall. Since this is an El Niño year, my guess is we will have a higher probability of a larger flood. May is usually when we see the mesoscale thunderstorms that cause issues.”