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La Niña offers South Texas warmer winter compared to 2010

By JR Ortega
Jan. 9, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 9, 2012 at 7:10 p.m.

Isai Martinez, Juan Gonzalez, Jose Gonzalez, John Hernandez and Rodolfo Rocha wrapped themselves in blankets to fight the breezy 52-degree temperatures during a Victoria West High School soccer game at Memorial Stadium.

Frank Gutierrez lunged against the dry, cold gust of wind tunneling through the streets in downtown Victoria.

A cold front pushed through the Crossroads early Monday morning, bringing rain and dropping daytime highs by at least 20 degrees.

But this winter is different, Gutierrez said.

Why? Because this winter is in La Niña, a climate pattern associated with cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures, said Christina Barron, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi.

La Niña makes winters dryer and milder, Barron said.

"This winter is not as bad," said Gutierrez, a 60-year-old from Victoria. "These cold fronts are going by really quick."

The weather phenomenon happens about once every five years, Barron said.

"They (La Niña) usually can last pretty long," she said. "It (La Niña) changes up the atmosphere to where the jet stream stays well to the north."

Overall, this winter is forecast to be dryer and warmer than usual as La Niña will last at least two more months, Barron said.

The daytime temperatures did not begin to drop until about noon Monday, but many woke to a shroud of gray blanketing the sky, gusty winds and both light and heavy rain.

Daytime temperatures dropped nearly 20 degrees, from the 80s to the 60s, in about two hours, Barron added.

Victoria Regional Airport recorded .57 of an inch of rain.

Gutierrez, who was walking to his maintenance job at the downtown U.S. Post Office, said he enjoys cooler weather.

Some more rain would make this winter a great one, said Gutierrez, who wants some relief from drought conditions.

"The grass is so dead," he said, putting his hands in his pockets for some warmth. "I wish it was wetter this winter."

No more rain is expected this week. Temperatures are expected to increase on Wednesday.

However, another cold front Thursday is expected to bring high winds and cooler temperatures, Barron said.



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