Five stories that have North Texas talking: 2015 was a very wet year; Ethan Couch's mother is back in the U.S.; the best movies of 2015; and more.
In 2015, Mother Nature threw everything she had at Texas -- hail storms, floods, tornadoes, blizzards and a summer drought. And, according to official numbers through November and federal estimates for December, it all adds up to 2015 being the state's wettest since record-keeping began in 1895. "I've called this year's climate 'Texas' wild ride," state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon told the Houston Chronicle. Preliminary figures show weekend rains from the North Texas tornado outbreak dropped an average of 1.3 inches across the state. That brings the statewide yearly rainfall total to 41.39 inches, surpassing 40.22 inches in 1941 and 39.45 inches in 1919 for the top spot on the rankings. It’s been especially wet in North Texas. Dallas-Fort Worth International has recorded more than 60 inches of rain in 2015 – that’s the first time that’s happened since records have been kept. Normally, we see about 36 inches in a year in Dallas-Fort Worth, the National Weather Service says. We saw 21.32 inches of rain in 2014 and 29.40 inches in 2013. [Houston Chronicle/Associated Press/KERA]
- The mother of teen U.S. fugitive Ethan Couch has been returned to the United States without her son after her deportation from Mexico. Tonya Couch was in handcuffs in the custody of U.S. Marshals when she was brought through Los Angeles International Airport early Thursday after a flight from Mexico. She looked away from cameras as she was taken to an unmarked car and driven away. It was unclear why she was brought to Los Angeles instead of Texas, where she and her son live and where he was on probation for a 2013 drunken-driving crash. Her son remains in Mexico in an immigration facility because a judge issued an injunction temporarily blocking his deportation. Authorities say the 18-year-old Ethan Couch, who used "affluenza" as a defense in the fatal drunken-driving wreck, fled with his mother to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, as prosecutors investigated whether he had violated his probation. Both were detained Monday. [Associated Press]
- What were the most popular stories of 2015 on the KERA News website? There was a Texas bucket list (39 things you should do in Texas before you die); stories about bad weather; a story about how kids are getting more time for recess; a look at the Sandra Bland case; and ode to Whataburger; and much more. Check out the most-read stories on KERANews.org for the year – and we have links so you can read them, too.
- What were the best movies of 2015? KERA’s Stephen Becker – we’ll call him Mr. Movies – is part of our Big Screen team. He talks movies every Thursday on KERA 90.1 FM. And he has a list of his favorite films of the year. Check it out.
- What were the best songs of 2015 with Texas ties? David Okamoto shares his faves: “Confidence. That’s the common thread running through my 10 favorite 2015 albums with Texas ties. Not bravado so much as the quiet conviction that comes from artists who realize that standing your ground can be just as fulfilling as blazing new trails.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.