The May 20 tornado that damaged the Blanket school district, the winter storm earlier this month that brought freezing rain, sleet and a little snow to the area and the ongoing drought were among the five most significant weather events for 2013 in West Central Texas, the National Weather Service in San Angelo said.
The weather service released a summary of the events in an email to the media.
5. May 20 Blanket EF1 Tornado
A tornado was first spotted by trained SKYWARN amateur radio storm spotters from Brownwood as the twister tracked from Lake Brownwood to Blanket.
In Blanket, a tornado damaged the roof of the Blanket High School. Large hail and damaging winds were also reported. Blanket Volunteer Fire Fighters spotted this tornado as it approached the town of Blanket and as it moved south into the nearby ranch country.
This tornado blew two heavy air conditioner units off of the high school. The twister caused roof damage to the gymnasium, a nearby bus barn and a nearby residence. It uprooted trees and knocked down power lines and steel fencing. It also tipped over two tombstones at the nearby cemetery. The tornado also snapped, damaged or uprooted many large oak trees that were more than 100 years old south of Blanket.
4. Dec. 5-6 West Central Texas Winter Storm
A strong winter storm dumped a mix of freezing rain, sleet and a little snow across a large part of West Central Texas on Thursday, December 5th and this wintry precipitation continued into early Friday morning, the 6th , before moving east.
Most of the precipitation fell as sleet as many areas along and north of the Interstate 10 Corridor and east of a line from Sweetwater to Sonora, reported a half inch to an inch or more of sleet. Many schools and government offices closed for the day on Friday because of icy roads.
3. June 17, Abilene Wind and Flash Flood
The downburst winds from isolated severe thunderstorms quickly evolved into an intense outflow boundary that produced wind speeds in excess of 70 mph across a large part of Abilene. Many folks in Abilene reported a wall of dust and very cool air along the leading edge of this boundary.
The outflow boundary and severe thunderstorms caused extensive wind damage and heavy rainfall across Abilene and parts of the Big Country. The slow moving thunderstorms also caused flash flooding in the City of Abilene. Trained storm spotters and law enforcement officials reported major flash flooding in the City of Abilene along with high water rescues. A few vehicles were fully submerged.
Although a large part of Abilene experienced 60 to 70 mph winds, the location receiving the most significant damage occurred on the south side of town near the mall and the Warwick Apartments. These high winds snapped telephone poles, uprooted large trees, broke tree limbs, knocked down power lines, tore the roof off of an industrial building, removed metal roofing material from an Albertsons Grocery Store and knocked over tractor trailers.
The damaging thunderstorm winds broke large glass windows at the Mall in Abilene, at a nearby Albertsons Grocery Store and on a nearby Furniture Row Building. One person was injured at the mall by the falling glass. The winds also blew large pieces of metal off of a storage facility into the front yard of a nearby residence that were about 1 to 2 blocks south of the facility. In addition to a freeway sign that was blown down, fences, power lines and tree limbs were toppled by the high winds across a large part of the City of Abilene.
2. 2013 West Central Texas Long Term Drought
The historic drought that began in October of 201, continued throughout 2013.
Beneficial rainfall that fell this past year continued to diminish the severity of the three year drought, agriculturally, across a large part of West Central Texas.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe drought continues north of a line from Rotan to Anson to Albany. For the first time, the Drought Monitor designated the Colorado River Basin above E.V. Spence to Lake O.H. Ivie to San Saba and beyond in a severe drought because of very low lake levels.
Most recent lake storage capacities: Fort Phantom Hill 45 percent full, Lake Stamford 16 percent full, Lake Brownwood 58 percent full, O.H. Ivie 14 percent full, E.V. Spence 4 percent full, O.C. Fisher 3 percent full and Twin Buttes Reservoir 1 percent full.
1. Nov. 23-24, Fatalities from Icy Bridges on U.S. Highway 277
Two motorists were killed on two separate accidents on icy bridges along U.S. 277 near Christoval and Eldorado.
The first one was killed near Eldorado on the evening of Nov. The second one was killed near Christoval on the morning of Nov. 23.
The National Weather Service also said:
Weather across West Central Texas can change dramatically and is typically characterized by flash floods, drought, wildfires, hail, wind storms, winter storms and tornadoes. "Our hearts and prayers are with those who lost loved ones, and we are very sorry if you experienced injury or property damage this past year," the weather service said.
Since the potential is always there for devastating fires and storms, it is always important to be weather ready. You can also learn how your NWS is making every effort to prepare for extreme weather through its Weather Ready Nation Initiative at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/
Here are a few safety tips.
• Know the name of your county and those around you.
• Have a means to receive forecasts, watches and warnings such as your local radio and TV stations, cable, internet provider, cell phone, and/or NOAA Weather Radio 24 hours a day.
• Take appropriate action when a watch or warning is issued for your area.