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February saw a mixture of warm and cool conditions as the year neared its transition from winter to spring.  The story for temperature followed a relatively consistent pattern of fluctuations between persistent warm and moist Gulf air being pushed away by cold fronts from northern and Arctic regions. Wildfires threatened some areas of north and west Texas, while significant rain events were prevalent in the east. Systems that brought rain also developed some severe characteristics, leading to strong and destructive thunderstorms. Overall, Texas residents were forced to change and adapt to these varying conditions throughout the month.

In many regions throughout the state, warm temperatures at the start of February left many questioning Punxsutawney Phil’s determination of six more weeks of winter. In the central Texas area, temperatures climbed into the upper 60s, while San Antonio and other south-central areas observed highs near 80. Shortly following these warm conditions, an Arctic airmass began making its way through North Texas and into the DFW metroplex. Temperatures dipped below freezing in some isolated areas. Flights at DFW and the George Bush International airport in Houston had to be cancelled on February 4 as cold temperatures left runways and roads icy. Other threats from this system included strong gale-force winds and sleet. Conditions evolved into a more dreary mood during the middle of the month as dense fog settled into a large portion of the state. Even though the fog lingered in the Austin area for the latter parts of the month, temperatures were able to climb into the upper 70s. Relatively consistent sunshine and spring-like weather returned to many Texas areas in the final days of February. This return of more comfortable weather also revived some dormant reptiles. According to experts at Texas A&M University, spring-like temperatures brought snakes out of winter hibernation and became pests for people and pets. The four species of venomous snakes in Texas include coral snake, copperhead, rattlesnake, and cottonmouth which is the most aggressive. Animal safety professionals are urging residents to remember that the presence of snakes do have the benefit of controlling populations of rodents, lizards, and bugs.

Thunderstorms that brought heavy rain to parts of north and east Texas in late February caught many residents in these regions off guard when tornadoes made their way through unnotified communities. There were several EF0 tornadoes that formed in the region including Johnson County on February 20. The National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory, but did not have a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning in effect. Numerous homes were damaged and three people were hospitalized because of the severe storm.

Dry and drought conditions persisted this month in the Panhandle and areas throughout west Texas. Several Texoma counties were placed under extreme drought conditions, according to a report from the U.S. drought monitor. Many farmers in the north Texas region are becoming fearful that the current dry conditions will affect crops. An official with the Texas A&M Ag Extension says that the topsoil has completely dried out. One farmer in west Texas has said that he used to believe drought would come every 40 or so years, but the current warm and dry conditions are starting to become sustained and lead to extreme drought more frequently. According to records from the National Weather Service, Lubbock is currently observing a period of over 80 days without measurable precipitation. These extremely dry conditions have prompted officials to issue burn bans and fire danger warning for many counties in the previously mentioned areas. Rusk County completely banned outdoor burning, warning that residents that violated the ban would have to pay up to $500.

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