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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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Texas Weather: Extremes in Nature.
by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner   

Last edited: Sunday, July 07, 2002
Posted: Saturday, July 06, 2002

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They say everything's bigger in Texas...that includes the weather.


The "Land of Contrasts." From coastal shores to prairies, from desert to mountains, this is a state of diversity.

The weather is even more complex.

In winter, powerful blizzards pound the Panhandle with blinding snow and bitingly cold winds that scream out of the north. Ice storms can literally stop Texans in their tracks in almost every part of the state. "Blue Northers"--arctic cold fronts--can blow through in a matter of minutes; the temperature, once nice and balmy, will turn bone-chilling cold...they're called "blue Northers" because you can go to work in the morning dressed up in lightweight clothes (and you forgot your jacket, anyway, since it was so nice and all); when you come back outside, you wish you'd packed all of your cold weather gear...dang it, but it's COLD outside!! Your skin turns a lovely shade of blue...:)

Springtime brings severe weather season (although severe storms can--and often do!--strike at any time of the year), where violent thunderstorms and their progeny bombard Texas with flooding rains, high winds, dangerous lightning, hail and sometimes, tornadoes. The temperature warms up (sometimes quickly, which leads to more instability and the greater likelihood of severe weather). The wildflowers blossom, turning hillside and prairie into a canvas of multihued color.

Summertime. Unending heat blazes and bakes Texas; coupled with high humidity, it makes for a very uncomfortable time...especially if you don't have air conditioning. Days and days and weeks and weeks can go by with no relief...nighttime temperatures rarely dip below 80 degrees during the coolest part of the night, and daytime temps can exceed 110 degrees...factor in the humidity, and temperatures can feel like they've reached 125-130 degrees! In the southeastern quadrant of the state, tropical systems and hurricanes can bring massive amounts of flooding rains and damaging winds, even spinning off tornadoes as an extra bonus.

Autumn brings with it many changes as the summertime pattern finally breaks down (much to our relief!) and transitions into a more winterlike pattern. The hot days of summer are much more infrequent and are less humid and much more tolerable. Sometimes, prolonged rain events dampen the atmosphere. (Thank God, we can give the air conditioner a rest!!)

Some Texas weather trivia: Extremes

--COLDEST: -23 degrees, Tulia, TX (2-12-1899) (also tied 2/8/1933 in Seminole, TX)
--HOTTEST: 120 degrees, Seymour, TX (8/12/1936) (also tied 6/28/1944 in Monahans, TX)
--RAINFALL (inches): Greatest amount in 24 hours: 29.05 inches, Albany, TX (8/4/1978)
--SNOWFALL (inches): Greatest in 24 hour period: 24 inches, Plainview, TX (2/3-5/1956)
--SNOWFALL (inches): Greatest in a single storm: 61 inches, Vega, TX (2/1-8/1956)
--WIND (mph): Highest sustained speed: 145 mph from the SE, Matagorda, TX (9/11/1961) (also tied 9/11/1961 in Port Lavaca, TX)
--WIND (mph): Highest peak gust: 180 mph from the SW , Aransas Pass (8/3/1970) (also tied 8/3/1970 in Robstown, TX)
2002. This year, I'm sure new record rainfall records will be set with all of the rainfall that is continuing to deluge parts of South Central and far western sections of North Texas.

For over a week, thunderstorms have developed and trained over the same areas over and over again, with little break in between storms. This is in response to an upper low pressure system that slowly moved in from the Gulf of Mexico and has stagnated over Texas for all this time; it keeps forming new vortices of low pressure and refuses to budge. Upper air patterns do not indicate any fronts or other weather system moving towards Texas to boot it out of here.

Although most sections of Texas has had rain, the heaviest concentration has occured in and near San Antonio; some communities to the immediate west and northwest of the city have recorded over 43 inches of rain since this storm began...and it continues to rain.

Over 4,000 people have been forced to evacuate by the raging waters.

Several people have died in the storms; most were swept away while driving or riding in cars that attempted to cross water covering the roads or were caught while playing in drainage ditches or other low spot.

More people are reported missing.

Thousands are spending time in shelters, hoping and praying for a break in the rain, fearful of what they may or may not find when the waters do begin to recede, wondering who of their family members, neighbors and friends will
survive or be affected by this onslaught by Nature.

Many of these people carry no insurance (certainly not flood insurance..."it'll never happen to me") or are underinsured. Whatever they have worked for in their lives may or not be there when they are finally allowed to return to their homes (if they indeed have a home).

Dramatic video footage has been shown on TV; someone was taping the flooding down the way, and a whole house was torn from its moorings and floated on by, carried along by a river gone mad.

Please keep Texas and her people in your thoughts and prayers. Better yet, make a donation to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army to assist those in need. Texans are a proud people from a big state...but this is bigger than any of them.

You never know when you are going to need help yourself...a disaster can strike with no warning.

God bless you for caring.

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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 8/16/2002
don't i know it! but i AM glad to be together with you; you are the one i would most want to be with; and i feel blessed that you are my twin! love, and ((HUGS GALORE)), your twin, karen lynn.
Reviewed by Claywoman 7/6/2002
The people of Texas are in my thoughts and will continue to be until they are safe. I'm sure the drought has ended with this storm...
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