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From 80 Degrees To A Half-Foot Of Snow: 12 Days Of Christmas Weather In D-FW History

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Lara Solt
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KERA News special contributor
This isn't hail, sleet or snow. It's shattered glass at the Rowlett home of Lindsay Diaz after the December 2015 tornado.

For all of you white Christmas hopefuls, know that a typical Dec. 25 in North Texas reaches the mid-50s with little-to-no measurable precipitation.

But as National Weather Service records show, sometimes the biggest surprise on Christmas Day can be the weather.

Just last year, it was a record-breaking 80 degrees. The year before that, on Dec. 26, a dozen tornadoes tore through the region. In 2012, a cold front brought hail, sleet and half a foot of snow to parts of Denton and Collin counties.

There are many more examples.

Here's a look at 12 days of unusual Christmastime weather in North Texas, spanning from 2016 all the way back to 1841.

Weather of Christmases past

Source: National Weather Service in Fort Worth

2016: The high reached 80 degrees; the low was 69. That made it the hottest Christmas since the National Weather Service started keeping track.

2015: After a warm 73-degree Christmas, the next day brought extreme weather. Dec. 26 reached a high of 82, and tornadoes ravaged Rowlett, Garland and Sunnyvale and killed 13 people. KERA focused on North Texas recovering from this storm in a series called "Rebuilding A Life."

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Credit Lara Solt / KERA News contributor
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KERA News contributor
What was left of Alfredo and Anthony Fowler-Rainone's home in Rowlett after tornadoes tore through the day after Christmas in 2015.

2012: Early morning thunderstorms gave way to snow and sleet. Western Denton County and Collin County saw between 4 and 6 inches.

Take a drive around Dallas on that Christmas day in 2012.

2009: Snow was still on the ground from a rare blizzard on Christmas Eve. The 3 inches of snow at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was the first measurable snowfall on record for Dec. 24. Some places northwest of the metro area received as much as 9 inches of snow — from Jacksboro to Bowie to northwestern Cooke County. Winds gusted over 50 mph, with drifts as high as 5 feet.  

2000: Nearly 2 inches of rain fell during the evening with freezing temperatures. The Dallas-Fort Worth area was spared any minor freezing rain. This is the wettest Christmas on record.

A typical Christmas in Dallas-Fort Worth: A high of 56 degrees.

1997: On Christmas Eve, there were a few flurries with rain, and on Christmas morning, about half an inch of snow covered parts of the metro.

1983: The high reached just 18 degrees and the low dropped to 6. It's the coldest Christmas on record. Texas wasn't alone; this was a historically cold Christmas for much of the country. 

1975: Less than half an inch of snow fell, but it was the first almost white Christmas in nearly 50 years.

1929: Texas experienced one of its heaviest snow events in history on Dec. 21. From Clifton to Hillsboro, 2  feet of snow fell. Snowfall in excess of 12 inches stretched from Goldthwaite and Lampasas to Corsicana and Athens. Central Texas saw 10 to 16 inches of snow, but only a trace was recorded in Dallas-Fort Worth.

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Credit National Weather Service in Fort Worth
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Monthly Weather Review, March 1930

1926: Two inches of snow fell in Fort Worth; it melted by afternoon. Dallas received over 6 inches of snow.

1879: One inch of sleet and snow was on the ground. "It was said that the snow and sleet was so compacted that a horse's hoof did not leave an imprint in the snow," the weather service reports.

1841: The earliest white Christmas on record in North Texas: Three soldiers from a nearby fort were tracking a bear in 6 inches of snow near what is now White Rock Lake.

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