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Event Summary

Thunderstorms are fairly uncommon in December in the Panhandles, but severe weather is almost unheard of in December.  In fact, less than 1% of all severe weather in the Panhandles occurs in the month.  However, meteorological anomalies do happen, and that is certainly what transpired during the afternoon hours of December 14.  As a potent upper-level storm system approached the region, it helped transport moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward.  At the surface, a cold front advanced eastward during the day.  As the front encountered the relatively moist air in the Texas Panhandle, showers and thunderstorms developed by the early afternoon hours across eastern New Mexico.  Initially, this activity remained below severe levels as it moved into the far western Texas Panhandle.  However, as the afternoon progressed, the atmosphere became slightly more unstable, which led to the development of severe thunderstorms.


Tornado near Washburn, TX
Tornado northeast of Washburn, TX. Courtesy BJ Shipp

There were several reports of damaging winds, including a 77-mph wind gust near Lake Tanglewood in Randall County, TX.  Despite very cold temperatures aloft, most of the hail that occurred was smaller than the size of a nickel.  Additionally, a storm survey determined that three EF-0 tornadoes occurred across the southern Texas Panhandle.  The first tornado occurred about 3 miles northeast of Washburn, the second tornado occurred 5 miles south southeast of Clarendon, and the third tornado occurred 1 mile north northwest of Lelia Lake. These were the first known tornadoes to occur in December in the Amarillo forecast area since 1950!  Despite the severe weather it was also one of the wettest days since late September.


December 14 Storm Reports
December 14, 2012 Storm Reports
December 14 Precipitation
December 14 Precipitation


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