Monday, April 15, 2024 Apr 15, 2024
69° F Dallas, TX
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Is It Impossible Right Now to Predict North Texas Weather?

We're subject to an unusual weather pattern right now.
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Today's forecast out of NOAA Fort Worth

Yesterday we had us a weather situation that had most of the region at sixes and sevens. The National Weather Service out of Fort Worth issued a severe weather watch that lasted until 10 p.m. and included a warning about hail larger than a baseball. That didn’t happen. Not anywhere near Dallas. And then, oddly, around parts of North and East Dallas, the tornado sirens sounded under mostly clear skies. Big Bob Wilonsky tweeted about it, and lots of people expressed their frustration, including one guy whose job requires a 2 a.m. wakeup.

So today I emailed the National Weather Service in Fort Worth the following question:

“I feel like I’ve had some version of the same conversation multiple times recently with friends and colleagues. The thrust: ‘We can’t predict the weather anymore. No one knows what’s about to happen.’ Especially phone apps. They all seem useless at this point. All last week and this week, the Apple app, for example, has been calling for 40% storms all day. Never happens—until it does. I got hailed on last Saturday. So here’s my question: what the hell? Has there really been some sort of change that is making the prognostication business more difficult? Or is it just me?”

Short answer: yes and no.

Longer answer: in response to my email, I got Jason Dunne on the phone. He’s a meteorologist in the Fort Worth office. He told me the weather pattern we’re in right now is “really, really hard to forecast.” Normally summer in North Texas, Dunne said, means humidity and light winds. But recently we’ve had more spring-like winds above the surface and our “cap” has been, um, less cappy? I was trying hard to keep up with what he was saying. Anyway, he said, “It adds a complexity to forecasting that we don’t usually see at this time of year.”

Dunne said that yesterday’s conditions were favorable for storms, “but it didn’t get going out west like we thought it would.” He pointed out that folks northeast of our metro area did indeed see some big weather.

One last thing: Dunne said he doesn’t use weather apps on his phone. He said if you’re looking at an hour-by-hour forecast on your phone, it’s mostly useless. “We’re just not that good,” he said.

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Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…

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