National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
2015 Weather Year in Review 

      It is said most droughts end in flood here in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. That was certainly the case for 2015’s many heavy rain events. After 4 years of persistent and severe drought conditions, above normal precipitation returned to the whole region over the course of the year. Most locations in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles received between 150%-200% of normal precipitation by year’s end. Precipitation totals comparable to this year had not been seen since the 1960’s. Amarillo reached its 4th wettest year on record. Other locations including Borger, Pampa, and Lipscomb experienced their wettest year on record. Beneficial rainfall during the year finally pushed Lake Meredith back above 25% capacity (first time since 2006) and Greenbelt above 23% capacity. The beginning of an El Niño event took shape across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the winter of 2014-2015 and strengthened throughout the year to eventually tie 1997-98 as the strongest El Niño event since records began in 1950. This oceanic and atmospheric pattern helped direct many notable weather systems across the Panhandles including a January snowstorm that brought 12 inches of snow to Amarillo, record-setting rainfall in May, river and playa lake flooding throughout the summer, a rare November tornado outbreak, and a Thanksgiving weekend ice storm that halted holiday travel for many.

      The spring and summer months were dominated by severe weather and flooding rain events, as the strengthening El Niño enhanced the North American monsoon and shifted its impacts toward New Mexico and West Texas. An extremely active Eastern Pacific hurricane season saw the remnants of several dying tropical storms and hurricanes impact this region with increased rainfall and storminess. The year’s first severe storms produced hail in late March, and periods of severe weather continued even late into the year. A very rare November tornado outbreak occurred on November 16th, with 19 separate tornadoes touching down across the eastern Panhandles. A single December tornado spotted north of McLean and quarter to half dollar sized hail accompanied the last severe weather episode for the year on December 12th. For the first time since 2002, the temperature never reached 100 degrees or higher in Amarillo all year. In comparison, Amarillo hit the 100 degree mark a record-setting 50 times during the height of the drought in 2011.



High for the year:  98 °F on July 12th & September 14th
Low for the year:  9 °F on January 4th
Average High Temperature:  71.5 °F (0.5 °F above normal)
Average Low Temperature:  45.8 °F (2.0 °F above normal)
Average Annual Temperature:  58.6 °F (1.2 °F above normal)
Annual Precipitation:  34.63 inches (14.27 inches above normal & 4th Wettest Year on Record)
Annual Snowfall:  28.5 inches (10.7 inches above normal)
Days with temperature ≥ 100 degrees:  0
Tornadoes:  34 Total – 22 EF-0, 8 EF-1, 2 EF-2, and 2 EF-3

Climate Graphs for 2015

Amarillo Dalhart Borger
Amarillo Climate 2015 Dalhart Climate 2015 Borger Climate 2015

Top 5 Regional Weather Events of 2015

Top 5 weather events



    High:  73 °F, 27th
    Low:  9 °F, 4th
    Average:  36.6 °F (0.4
°F below normal)
    Precipitation:  1.61 inches (0.89 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  14.1 inches
    Records:  Record snowfall of 11.0 inches on the 21st.
                    10th wettest January on record.
                     5th snowiest January on record.

January ended up being a snowy month for most of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. A winter storm early in the month brought several inches of snow and dangerously cold wind chills to much of the area. Then a more significant winter storm affected the Panhandles from the 21st to 22nd. A persistent east-west band of heavy snow developed in the overnight hours and produced snowfall accumulations of near 1 foot for locations generally along the Interstate 40 corridor. Many other areas received at least 4 to 6 inches of heavy snow from that storm as well. Despite the snow, varying degrees of drought conditions continued to affect the region.

    High:  83 °F, 7th
    Low:  11 °F on 23rd, 27th & 28th
    Average:  40.2 °F (0.1 °F below normal)
    Precipitation:  0.47 inches (0.09 inches below normal)
    Snowfall:  6.8 inches
    Records:  Set the record high maximum temperature of 82
°F on the 6th.
                    Set the record high maximum temperature of 83
°F on the 7th.
                    Set the record cold maximum temperature of 20
°F on the 27th.
                    Record snowfall of 3.5 inches on the 23rd.

February was a drier month for the Panhandles. Several inches of snow accompanied winter storms near the end of the month, though not until after a very warm and dry first half of the month. Higher snowfall totals were generally across the western Oklahoma Panhandle and northwestern Texas Panhandle with the winter storms that affected the area. Drought conditions persisted across the region during the month.

    High:  87 ° F, 31st
    Low:  12 °F, 5th
    Average:  50.6 °F (2.7 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  0.21 inches (1.18 inches below normal)
    Snowfall:  0.1 inches
    Records:  No records set or tied during March.

March was another dry month for the Panhandles. Most locations reported less than one half inch of precipitation. A winter storm early in the month brought freezing drizzle and 1 to 3 inches of snowfall to some portions of the area. Severe to Extreme drought conditions continued to affect the Panhandles in March. The first severe weather for the year occurred on the 31st, when thunderstorms formed along a weak dryline in the eastern Texas Panhandle and produced quarter size hail over portions of Gray and Lipscomb Counties.

    High:  88 °F, 8th
    Low:  32 °F, 10th
    Average:  59.1 °F (2.8 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  2.97 inches (1.57 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  Trace (for hail)
    Records:  Record precipitation of 1.71 inches on the 27th.

The weather became more active in April as dryline activity resulted in periods of high wind and severe thunderstorms throughout the month. The year’s first tornado occurred in northwest Potter County on the 11th, followed by an additional 6 weak tornadoes across the Texas Panhandle on the 16th. The largest hailstone for the month was measured at 3.3 inches near Allison, TX. Above normal rainfall helped to ease drought conditions across much of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.

    High:  85 °F, 3rd & 27th
    Low:  40 °F, 11th
    Average:  62.1 °F (3.5 °F below normal)
    Precipitation:  9.21 inches (7.00 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  Set the record cold maximum temperature of 55
°F on the 20th.
                    Set the record cold maximum temperature of 55
°F on the 21st.
                    Record precipitation of 1.02 inches on the 5th.
                    Record precipitation of 1.50 inches on the 9th.
                    Record precipitation of 2.45 inches on the 23rd.
                    2nd wettest May on record.
     Tornadoes:  6 Total - 2 EF-0, 3 EF-1, and 1 EF-2

The theme for weather in May was “When it rains, it pours.” Amarillo set daily precipitation records 3 times during the month and ended up with its 2nd wettest May on record. Most of the Panhandles received at least 200 to 300 percent of normal rainfall for the month. In fact, locations in southern Armstrong and Donley Counties received nearly 1 year’s worth of precipitation (15 to 20 inches) in just the month of May. With such high rainfall totals occurring so frequently, flooding and flash flooding became a recurring issue by the end of May. Playa lakes in and around Amarillo flooded roadways, homes, and businesses while area rivers and streams swelled to near flood stage. On other occasions, heavy rain fell too quickly and 1 to 2 feet of ponding water closed highways and other rural roads. Most drought impacts were erased by month’s end. Hail, high winds, and tornadoes accompanied thunderstorms throughout the month as well. Most notably, an EF-2 rated tornado touched down near Canadian, TX and caused damage to oil field machinery and structures. Video footage and storm spotter reports indicated that the ¾ mile wide tornado remained on the ground for 14 minutes and was fairly stationary.

    High:  94 °F, 28th
    Low:  58 °F, 2nd
    Average:  75.0 °F (0.6 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  3.89 inches (0.73 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  Record precipitation of 1.46 inches on the 13th.
    Tornadoes:  1 EF-0

June was a relatively drier month when compared with nearly record-setting May, but several rounds of thunderstorms did bring severe weather and flooding to portions of the Panhandles throughout the month. Though some storms did produce large hail, damaging winds were particularly common with severe storms this month. Reports of overturned mobile homes, damaged roofs, and downed telephone poles accompanied measured wind gusts of up to 85 mph during the month. Some abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions persisted across the drier northwest sections of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.

    High:  98 °F, 12th
    Low:  56 °F, 8th
    Average:  78.2 °F (0.1 °F below normal)
    Precipitation:  6.59 inches (3.75 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  8th wettest July on record.

The wet summer pattern continued through July, with most Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle locations receiving at least 3 to 4 inches of rainfall. All drought conditions were removed from the Panhandles by the end of July – marking an end to the 2010-2015 drought. Severe thunderstorms during the month resulted in numerous reports of large hail, damaging winds, and flooding. The continued wet pattern also helped to keep temperatures mostly cooler than normal during the month. Amarillo only reached a maximum temperature of 98 degrees in July.

    High:  97 °F, 6th
    Low:  55 °F, 20th
    Average:  76.8 °F (normal)
    Precipitation:  3.68 inches (0.77 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  No records set or tied during August.

Above normal rainfall was less widespread through August, though many locations still received at least 2 to 3 inches of rain for the month. Thunderstorms on a few days produced large hail, damaging winds, and flash flooding. Wind gusts of up to 90 mph accompanied thunderstorms overnight from the 18th into the 19th, causing widespread damage to buildings, trees, and other property in the Amarillo and Canyon areas.

    High:  98 °F, 14th
    Low:  53 °F, 26th
    Average:  75.1 °F (5.6 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  0.16 inches (1.76 inches below normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  Set the record high maximum temperature of 97
°F on the 17th.
                    7th warmest September on record.
                    5th driest September on record.

September was a much drier and warmer month for the Panhandles. Only the far western Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles received above normal rainfall for the month. A few isolated severe thunderstorms produced damaging wind gusts and large hail.

    High:  90 °F, 11th
    Low:  38 °F, 29th
    Average:  61.2 °F (2.9 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  3.48 inches (1.62 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  0.0 inches
    Records:  Record precipitation of 0.65 inches on the 4th.

Active weather returned to the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles in October. Several widespread rain events added up to above normal precipitation for all but the far southeastern Texas Panhandle. A round of thunderstorms on the 21st into the 22nd brought over 6 inches of rain to areas from Vega to Boys Ranch, and 11 homes in Vega were flooded as a result. A strong cold front late in the month brought north winds gusting up to 60 mph. Warmer and drier weather in the southeastern Texas Panhandle caused short term drought concerns which eased by month’s end.

    High:  80 °F, 2nd
    Low:  22 °F, 27th & 28th
    Average:  47.7 °F (1.4 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  1.50 inches (0.70 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  1.3 inches
    Records:  Record precipitation of 0.59 inches on the 26th.
    Tornadoes:  19 Total - 11 EF-0, 5 EF-1, 1 EF-2, and 2 EF-3

A warm and drier fall weather pattern continued into November, with periods of rain and snow throughout the month. A strong low pressure system in the middle of the month caused a rare November tornadic outbreak for the eastern half of the Panhandles followed up by heavy snow for the western Oklahoma Panhandle and far northwestern Texas Panhandle. 19 separate tornadoes were confirmed on November 16th, including two EF-3 rated tornadoes that passed just east of Pampa. Previously, only 1 other confirmed tornado had occurred in either the Texas or Oklahoma Panhandles in November. A band of snowfall persisted the following day across northwestern portions of the combined Panhandles, resulting in up to a foot of snow near Boise City. Several grassfires occurred in drier areas during the month. An ice storm brought up to 1 inch of accumulating ice, as well as an inch or more of sleet, to portions of the Panhandles over Thanksgiving weekend – halting travel and slowing the start to the Holiday shopping season for many in the area.

    High:  73 °F, 11th
    Low:  18 °F on 16th, 17th, 18th, and 29th
    Average:  41.0 °F (4.1 °F above normal)
    Precipitation:  0.78 inches (0.07 inches above normal)
    Snowfall:  6.2 inches
    Records:  No records set or tied during December.
    Tornadoes:  1 EF-0

Temperatures were warmer than normal for most of December in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. On a few occasions, high temperatures were close to 20 degrees above normal. The month was not all warm and dry, however. Severe thunderstorms on the evening of the 12th produced some hail and a brief tornado north of McLean. Other locations received up to 2 inches of rain that night before a winter storm moved over the Panhandles and rain transitioned to snow. By the evening of the 13th, snowfall accumulations ranged from as little as 1 to 2 inches up to 12 inches across the Panhandles. The greatest totals extended from near Texline to Boise City, and high winds in that area led to whiteout conditions which made travel impossible. The year closed out with another strong winter storm that dropped 2 to 10 inches of snow across the southern Texas Panhandle and produced blizzard conditions. Wind gusts over 60 mph caused damage in a few locations, and drifts up to 6 feet deep were measured in rural areas.