Lubbock ready for the end of freezing week, after 5 days of record-breaking cold

Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 5:05 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The counting continued Thursday afternoon when Lubbock reached 165 continuous hours of temperatures below the freezing mark.

The winter storm that left the area with a week of freezing temperatures broke several daily high and low temperature records and forced Lubbock to a low of zero degrees, the first time since 1989.

“One of the more significant aspects of this event is we have nine straight days, from February 10th to the 18th, with at least a trace of frozen precipitation,” Lubbock NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jody James said. “When you add all these together, the length of the event, the cold, the wind chills, the number of consecutive days with winter precipitation, all of that together in my mind makes this an extremely historic event in terms of winter weather.”

From February 12th to the 16th, each day saw record-breaking minimum high temperatures, ranging form 14 to 22 degrees. Three of those days also had record lows of 0 to 5 degrees.

“If you look back, the historical record, whether it’s severe weather, warmth, heat waves, cold, it’s always about those extremes,” James said. “The weather nearly always varies from the average, but very few days are actually right at the normal. That’s what we have to live with and that’s why we encourage everyone to be prepared, because we never know what’s coming in spring, summer winter. We have to be prepared for those extremes and this was definitely an extreme event.”

James said the arctic air came as expected but stuck around a bit longer than thought.

“It’s sometimes hard to nudge that out,” James said. “So exactly how long an air mass like this will stay in here, once it settles in, is very, very difficult. It takes a pretty good wind and kind of a change in the jet stream pattern in the low pressure trough at the surface to get that out of here. That didn’t happen.”

Just as the right sequence of atmospheric conditions brought the cold down from the arctic, there’s a right combination of factors, including southwest winds, that are expected to push the cold air out over the weekend. Whether it takes another several decades to return is unknown.

“That cold air has been coming down from that area into our neck of the woods long before humans were here,” James said. “So, I’m sure it will continue. We’ve got to be prepared for that.”

To take a look at the NWS Lubbock data and summary of the weather event, click here.

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