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December was mostly cold and dry, with frequent cold fronts passing without a lot of precipitation for most of the state. However, the month started off loud with one of the worst ice storms in decades striking the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The storm hit overnight on the 5th and coated DFW with between one and four inches of ice, completely shutting down the region. The ice was responsible for the cancelation of over 1,100 flights out of DFW international Airport, the shutdown of nearly every major interstate into and out of the city, and the loss of power to over 260,000 people. Preliminary estimates believe there to be over 1 billion dollars of roadway damage to the Metroplex and $30 million in other damages. The same system brought deadly, multicar pile-ups to El Paso, and another ice storm later in the month did the same to Amarillo.

The cold weather contributed to a variety of agricultural and ecological impacts around the state. Short-term dryness in the Panhandle is causing some concern over winter wheat, as snowfall has been below average, but cooler temperatures are helping prevent moisture loss. Grains in central Texas, in spite of the drought, saw record high production levels, leading to optimistic forecasts for next year. Ecologically, the cold weather has been hard on plants and wildlife, including 200 cold-shocked sea turtles that needed rehabilitation and millions of dollars in damage to trees during the month’s multiple ice storms.

In terms of drought, the state generally took a step to the side rather than forward or backward. Some regions saw improvements, such as Alice improving their water restrictions from Stage 3 to voluntary Stage 1 due to heavy rainfall at the end of November, though others, including Austin and San Antonio, went back to Stage 3 after the Edwards Aquifer saw itself in decline again. Statewide reservoirs hovered in the mid-sixties, with a slight bump up due to moderate rainfall mid-month. Overall though, Texas ended the year considerably better than it began due to above-average accumulations in recent months.
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