September breaks records across the state

Texas just concluded its warmest September ever on record, says new figures from the Office of the Texas State Climatologist at Texas A&M University.

New data shows that September was the warmest ever in 125 years, with a state average temperature of 81.5 degrees, 0.8 degrees warmer than the previous record set in 1911.

Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said that 102 Texas counties had their warmest September on record. Three Panhandle counties exceeded the 20th-century average September temperature by 7.6 degrees.

“This comes on the heels of the second-warmest August on record, surpassed only by August 2011," Nielsen-Gammon said. "In fact, September was warmer than more than one-third of all prior Augusts."

He added that August-September combined was the warmest on record and July-September was second warmest.  

“The first decent cold front of the season was also late in arriving,” he said. “If we call the first day of fall weather the first day after Aug. 1 in which the minimum temperature is at least as cool as an average September day, most of the state had its first fall day later than in any previous year of record-keeping.”

Nielsen-Gammon said that in Lubbock, San Antonio, Dallas, College Station, Houston, Brownsville, and McAllen, fall arrived more than a week later than in any previously recorded year with the first fall day not happening until the second week of October.

While temperatures were high everywhere, rainfall was unusually erratic, even for Texas, Nielsen-Gammon said.

In the Fort Worth area, four counties received an average of less than one-tenth of rain in September, their driest on record. Tropical Storm Imelda helped counties in southeast Texas to their wettest September on record, each averaging more than 11 inches.

He said now that cold fronts have started arriving, evaporative losses will decrease and there will be more opportunities for widespread rainfall. 

With little sign of El Niño developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean, there’s not much reason to expect unusual rainfall patterns this winter, so drought conditions should improve in most areas, Nielsen-Gammon said.