AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - As we start 2018, it's a good time to recap some of the top weather stories of 2017. From the March wildfires, record August rainfall, to a late Fall and early Winter drought, 2017 was another year of wild Panhandle weather.
1. March Wildfires
One of the most devastating stories of 2017 was the March wildfires.
Several people lost their lives, and 521,000 acres were burned. The fires caused $25.1 million in damages.
4,000 animals were lost, and 1,000 miles of fencing was destroyed. That is enough fencing to go from Amarillo to Atlanta, GA.
2. Record Wet August
August 2017 was the third wettest on record with 7.40 inches of of rain.
It was also the wettest first half of a month on record with 6.64 inches of rain by August 15.
The record August rainfall left us with six inches of rain above normal for the year.
The surplus of rain caused the release of water from Ute Lake into the Canadian River and Lake Meredith for the first time in many years.
3. Total Solar Eclipse
Aug. 21, 2017 was the Total Solar Eclipse. The eclipse left a path about 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina in two minutes of darkness.
It passed through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Here across the Panhandle, we experienced about 80 percent of the eclipse. While we didn't get to experience the eclipse at totality, our own Doppler Dave traveled to Nebraska and was able to broadcast totality live for us during our hour long eclipse special.
We were honored to team up with the Don Harrington Discovery Center to make this once in a lifetime event enjoyable for people of all ages.
4. Record Breaking Dry Spell
Even though we had above normal rainfall in August and ended the year with more than six inches of precipitation above normal, we still ended 2017 with extremely dry conditions.
Amarillo has not seen measurable precipitation since October 13, 2017, which as of today is 81 days without measurable rain or snow. Measurable precipitation must be greater than .01".
The old record was 75 days set back in 1957. Due to the lack of moisture, much of the Panhandle is now in a short term drought, which is expected to spread to the northern parts of the Panhandle over the next few months.
The outlook for the next three months is also showing below normal precipitation. Dry conditions caused several grass fires in December, and without rain or snow, we are at a greater risk for fires in the upcoming months.
The weather across the Panhandle is always changing and always keeps is on our toes. The First Alert Weather team is here to make sure you will always have the latest and most up to date forecast for whatever mother natures brings us in 2018.