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Texas provided numerous climate impacts on society during the past month. Abnormally warm weather gave way to cooler and in many cases, frigid temperatures. There remains groups of people still displaced due to damages caused by Hurricane Harvey nearly 4 months ago. A prevalent and continuous issue during the month was a low amount of rainfall and abnormally dry or drought conditions.

Warm weather opened the month with many regions observing temperatures in the high 70s and lower 80s. 84 degrees was the measured high temperature at Camp Mabry in Austin on December 4 which matched the record for highest temperature on that date. According to the National Weather Service, this record temperature is nearly 20 degrees warmer than the average for this day, 65 degrees. A cold front moved into North Texas early December 4 morning then moved into the interior of the state, ending the streak of unseasonably warm weather. Temperatures turned from cold to frigid in the latter part of the month as Arctic air creeped into the state. Christmas temperatures were 10 degrees colder than normal with partly sunny skies in central Texas. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport observed 34 degrees the morning of Christmas. This is a stark contrast from the mid-80s experienced last year.

Three months had passed since Hurricane Harvey extensively damaged southeast Texas. Heavy and destructive rains were the main cause of the destruction, though since this storm, the southeast had seen scarce rainfall. Some parts of eastern Texas small rainfall amounts since September. At least 90 days since the storm, rainfall has been below normal while average monthly temperatures have been 5 degrees above normal. These conditions have allowed for some regions to be designated moderate to severe drought. While rain was relatively scarce during the month, unexpected snowfall was seen during some points. Freezing temperatures behind a cold front mixed with moisture from the Gulf caused a rare snowfall in parts of South Texas. According to the National Weather Service, up to two and a half inches of snow was measured in the San Antonio area on December 8. The most recent comparable snowfall in San Antonio was in January 1987, which saw a snow accumulation of 1.3 inches. However, the record snowfall in San Antonio was in January 1985, when 13.2 inches fell.

The warm and cool mix of temperatures, along with moderately dry weather provided ideal conditions for some Texas crops. Agronomists are predicting an exceptional yield of the cotton crop this season. Maturity of cotton growth in the High Plains has been impacted by cooler weather during the latter parts of September and early October. This region is expected to yield more than 5 million bales. The sale price for cotton is currently sitting at 73 cent which is a good signal of world demand. The U.S. cotton industry is even more optimistic this season after India’s cotton crop was recently downsized while the demand has grown.

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