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Snow in Mexico and Southwest Texas, Record Heat in Australia

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:49 PM GMT on January 04, 2013

Snow in Mexico and Southwest Texas, Record Heat in Australia

El Paso, Texas picked up 3.0” of snow (officially at the NWS office) on Thursday and Friday this week and heavy snow fell in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico about 200 miles south of El Paso. How unusual is this?

The answer is that it is not unusual to see snowfall in Chihuahua (or El Paso). The city of Chihuahua (pop. 840,000) rests at an altitude of 4,600’ (1,400 meters) and is one of Mexico’s coldest cities during the winter. About 2” of snow fell there on Thursday and the temperature fell to 32°F (0°C) during the duration of the snowfall between 2p.m.-6p.m. On average Chihuahua can expect one or two days of measureable snow every winter. It’s greatest snowfall on record is apparently 40 cm (about 16”) at some undisclosed date in the past.

A deep snow (about 6-8”) blanketed Chihuahua, Mexico on Christmas Eve, 2004. Such events are not as uncommon as one might suppose. Photographer unknown.

Mexico’s coldest temperature on record was also recorded in the Chihuahua State at the village of Valerio when a reading of -28.5°C (-19.3°F) was measured on January 30, 1949.

A map shows Mexico’s absolute minimum temperatures for the POR of 1941-1977 in C°. Note the large area of below zero F° (-18°C or lower) isotherms that reach far south of the border and into the Chihuahua region. The map has an apparent error so far as the -14°C isothermal line is concerned. Map from the Mexican Meteorlogical Department.

El Paso, Texas normally sees a few snowfalls every winter as well, even though it is a bit lower than Chihuahua at 3,700’ (1,140 m) but, of course, much further north. El Paso’s greatest snowfall on record was 22.4” on December 13-15, 1987 (about the same as Chicago’s record!) of which 16.8” fell in one 24-hour period. During the great cold wave of January 1962 the temperature fell to an all-time record low of -8°F (-22.2°C) on January 11th.

Some elevated suburbs of El Paso received as much as 8” from the recent storm. Ironically, the official 3” at the NWS office means that the city has now had three times more snowfall this season than Chicago, which continues its record-breaking streak of snowless weather.

Hot in Australia

All-time record highs were broken at several Australian sites in Western Australia. Red Rocks Point topped the list off with a 48.6°C (119.5°F) reading on January 3rd. Eucla, which sits right on the coast of the Great Australian Bight, measured a record 48.2°C (118.8°F). Perth had its hottest New Year’s Eve on record (and 3rd warmest December day) when the heat peaked at 42.1°C (107.8°F) on December 31st. Temperatures are forecast to exceed 45°C (113°F) today (January 4th) in portions of South Australia and New South Wales. Australia’s hottest temperature on record is 50.7°C (123.3°F) at Oodnadatta, South Australia on January 2, 1960.

Hobart, Tasmania broke its all-time heat record on Friday with a 41.8°C (107.2°F) reading. The previous record was 40.8°C (105.4°F) set in January 1976. The POR for this site in Hobart is 126 years old.

A wild fire swept through the town of Dunalley in southeast Tasmania briefly heating the weather site’s thermometer to 59.9°C (140°F) at one point Friday afternoon (at 4:22 p.m.). Winds were gusting to 82 km/h at the time.

KUDOS:Howard Rainford for Australian temperatures.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.