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How Much More Winter Weather Is Left For the Borderland?

Weather Talk

POSTED: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 2:25pm

UPDATED: Monday, February 3, 2014 - 3:17pm

History Shows that the El Paso Can Still Get Cold and Even Snow into Spring

We are headed into our roller coaster coaster time of the year for temperatures. Although it was kind of rare for the end of January, we saw a few days of 70’s last week, followed by days in the 50’s and wind chilled overnight’s dropping into the teens and 20’s. This has been a mild winter as a whole. For those who are over the cold and done with winter, “When will the Borderland warm up?" On the other hand there are many “winter fans” who would love to see another day or two of snow. So in today’s “Weather Talk” I thought I would look at what February and March look like temperature wise, how our average rain and snow chances for the next two months and what impact does our “windy season” have on our temperatures and precipitation.

I want to first acknowledge and thank the National Weather Service El Paso located in Santa Teresa, NM for the following temperature and precipitation record keeping and numbers for El Paso, TX. The weather service has been keeping daily records for El Paso since the late 1800’s. The coldest months of the year are December and January for El Paso. The normal low for December is 32.5º and the average high is 57.1º. January’s average low is 32.2º and normal high is 57.7º.El Paso’s average low is 34º and average high is 60º to start off the month of February and 40º and 63º by the end of the month. Starting off the month of March El Paso’s average low is 40º and average high is 67º and 46º and 74º by March 31st.

The coldest low ever recorded during the February was 1º on February 2nd, 2011. That was the start of 3 days of single digit lows! The coldest lows recorded for the month of March was 14º on March 1st, 1922 and 14º on March 3rd, 1971.
The coldest temperature ever recorded at El Paso International Airport was
-8º on Jan 11th, 1962.

Here are the all time cold temperatures extremes for El Paso;

(Image Credit- National Weather Service El Paso, Santa Teresa, NM - )

As you can see we hit the lowest maximum or high temperature of 15º on Feb 2nd, 2011. That is when we dropped into the single digits for three consecutive mornings from February 2nd through the 4th back in 2011. Many people had pipes burst, lost power and palm trees and cacti because of the extreme cold from an Arctic air mass. You also see from this chart that the average “Last Freeze” date is March 19th for El Paso. The latest freeze ever recorded was 31º on May 2nd, 1967!

The 30 year average precipitation for February is .46”. March is a dry month with .26” normal precipitation.

Winter storms are usually associated with areas of low pressure known as cyclones. Under normal circumstances the winds across southern New Mexico and far western Texas blow from west to east during our cold season with the high mountains over California, Arizona and northwestern Mexico blocking any low level moisture heading our way. This explains why the region is so dry from late September through early June. However any time from November through early April our relatively mild, dry weather can transform into cold, snowy or even icy conditions within hours if a cyclone develops intensifies and moves across certain areas of the southwest. Major snowstorms can strike southwestern New Mexico and Far Western Texas any time from late autumn through early spring. El Paso, Texas was paralyzed when from December 13-14, 1987 almost TWO FEET of snow fell over the city. A surprise springtime snowstorm also dumped 17 inches of snow across the El Paso area from April 5-7, 1983.

Here are the snow extrems for El Paso;

(Image Credit- National Weather Service El Paso, Santa Teresa, NM - )

The westerly to easterly or zonal flow as I mentioned keeps the Borderland dry November through June.
For the most part dry. Our “windy season” from the end of February to the beginning of May can warm up our temperatures and keep the rain and snow away! The series of upper level waves, lows and cold fronts that travel through our region from the west have now moisture to work with, so all we get are the strong, dusty winds. Which in turn produce our infamous “dust storms”. Read my last “Weather Talk”: Are You Ready for “Another One Bites the Dust?”

Well, now you know we still have a couple more months of colder temperatures and a chance at seeing some snow, snow flurries or at least a rain/snow mix! Our best shot is February, but as we saw in the records we have seen heavy snow as late as the beginning of April! Our “windy season” kicks into high gear in March and April and the winds usually warm us up, chase away the rain and snow and replace our rain chances with chances of blowing dust! So for you cold weather fans we still have a two more months or you can take a drive or a flight just into some of the state to our north. Now for you warm weather enthusiasts just hold on until April or make some spring break vacation plans somewhere like Florida or on the Mexican coast!

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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