POSTED: Friday, January 3, 2014 - 11:40am
UPDATED: Monday, January 6, 2014 - 9:33am
Our Borderland Weather Is Ideal Compared To The Rest Of The Country
Friday. January 3rd, 2014 — I have been thinking quite a bit lately about how fortunate we are to live in the Borderland, especially weather wise. I decided to take a look back at 2013 where there were plenty of powerful weather events. There were the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, record heat and drought in the southwest, tdestructive fires and floods in Colorado, to a massive October blizzard covering much of the northern tier of states. There were so many weather events that were extreme across our country. I chose to briefly remind you of a few and compare our 2013 Borderland weather in similar categories in todays” Weather Talk”.
May, 2013 our country saw over 100 tornadoes, including two separate EF5 tornadoes in Oklahoma. The May 31st Tornado that went through El Reno, Oklahoma broke the record for the widest tornado ever recorded, at 2.6 miles wide. May 20th, 2013 Moore, Oklahoma saw a devastating tornado, EF5 strength and two miles wide tracked through killing 27 people and leaving behind extensive $2.5 billion in damages.
Thankfully the Borderland did not have to deal with devastating tornadoes, but we do have our notorious for our windy season. This past year we saw a peak gust of 61 mph at the airport to kick off the windy season on February 24th. Also, there were a couple windy days in both March and April with gusts in the upper 50 mph range that kicked up the Borderland dust!
In late June 2013, an intense heat wave struck Southwestern U.S.. There were many places in Southern California reached up to 122 °F! On June 30, Death Valley, California hit 129.2 °F which is the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth during the month of June. It was five degrees shy of all time record high in this area of 134 °F, in July 1913. Increasingly dry southwestern states continued to battle conditions that remain from the Great Drought of 2012. Texas Governor Rick Perry extended the drought emergency in June, citing an “imminent threat to public health, property, and the economy with $11.9 drought related losses since 2011. New Mexico suffered from dire water shortage. Elephant Butte Reservoir that once held 2.2 million acre-feet of water dropped to a meager 3 percent full.
El Paso saw 18 day’s of 100º+ heat in June, and a grand total of 26 days of 100º or high temperatures this past year. El Paso averages 15 days of 100º or higher, so 2013 saw a hotter than normal summer.
The Black Forest Fire that started on June 11th was Colorado’s most destructive fires ever seen in the state, causing $500 million in losses. The fire burned for more than one week, killing two people and destroying over 500 homes. Fire investigators now say they believe the fire was intentionally set. This historic Black Forest Fire was followed by the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona that tragically took the lives of 19 elite firefighters.
Extreme drought fueled several wildfires in New Mexico during June 2013. Lightning ignited the Silver Fire in a rugged, forested area east of Silver City, New Mexico on June 10, 2013. According to firefighting agencies in New Mexico, the Silver Fire had spread across nearly 6,700 acres by the morning of June 11. The fire was fought by 350 firefighters on the ground and by helicopters. The Silver Fire was the largest of the year in our region covering nearly 217 square miles in the Black Range.
There was Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding occurred for nearly a week in mid September along Colorado's Front Range from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins. Boulder County and the surrounding areas were the worst hit with over 16 inches of drenching rain. The rain resulted in numerous washed out roadways and bridges, and the need for hundreds of aerial water rescues. The area was declared a natural disaster by President Obama and the flooding resulted in nine deaths and over $2 billion in property damage.
In July El Paso had 3.13” of rain which was over an inch and a half above average. We also had a wetter than normal 3.85” in September which was 2.34” average! The airport recorded over 2.00” of rainfall in a 24 hour period starting on a Thursday September, 12th lasting through Friday September 13th. Heavier rains fell in and around the Socorro area on those days, causing water damage and filling houses with mud and debris. Residents are still cleaning up and hoping for some sort of assistance.
The October 2013 Great Plains Blizzard affected the Northwest, Rockies, and much of the Midwest. Rapid City, South Dakota, was engulfed in close to two feet of snow, an all time October record! Tens of thousands of people lost electricity in South Dakota. Nearly 200 miles of Interstate 90 were shut down from South Dakota to Wyoming where over 6 dozen people were trapped in their cars and 3 people died in a motor vehicle accident in Nebraska. Tens of thousands of cattle were killed in South Dakota with ranchers reporting loss of 20 to 50% of their herds.
El Paso started 2013 with nearly 3” of snowfall on January 3rd, some parts of town saw over 4”! On November 24th, El Paso recorded a trace at the airport to up 1” inch of snowfall in parts of northeast and far east El Paso and up 2” was measured on the ground in parts of Las Cruces. The same storm system produced over night of sleet and freezing rain.
From Excessive heat to cold blizzards, to historically devastating fires, floods and tornadoes in 2013, our country saw it all. Here in the Borderland we have hot summers, our gusty and dusty windy seasons, our occasional flooding thunderstorms, a snow storm or two, but in comparison to the rest of the country, we are pretty lucky.
There will be more wild weather in 2014, hopefully not as extreme or as damaging. I love my career and my chosen field of study, weather, but I do not like seeing the devastation. Our Borderland weather pattern is one of the many reasons we are so fortunate to live here.
(Image. MGN Online)