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Despite recent rains, drought persists

Summer of 2018 among driest, hottest on record
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Texas has been one of the hardest hit states by the ongoing drought.

Despite what it is predicted to be an above average winter for precipitation, experts believe drought conditions will remain through the early part of 2019.

If this summer has seemed especially hot and dry, that’s because comparatively, it has been.

As of Aug. 30, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Parker County is on track for its 15th driest year dating back to 1895.

At the end of August, the observed precipitation totals in the county averaged 17.05 inches – if that trend continues, the area would receive 22.73 inches of rain and snow by Dec. 31 – far below the average annual total of 31.79 inches.

When observing the three-month period of May, June, and July, the area had its third-driest mark compared to the same three-month period, tied with May-July 1998, getting 4.95 inches of rain.

Most of that rain – 2.7 inches – fell in May.

In June, the county received 0.69 inches of rain, to make this year the 11th driest June in the last 123 years.

The land fared a bit better in July, as the area received 0.96 inches of rain – the 27th lowest mark for a Parker County July.

The high temperatures in June and July were also near all-time records.

After a relatively cold May – the average high temperature of 88 degrees was the fifth coldest, tied with 1927 and 1956, June

(96.4 degrees) and July

(100.5) were both 10th all-time on their respective lists.

DROUGHT IMPACT

The lack of rain was often felt by the issuance of burn bans.

Beginning June 28, the county judge and commissioners court issued an outdoor burning ban then continued it through Aug. 13 when rains drenched the area and made it safe for residents to again burn.

The July 4 holiday was impacted when County Judge Mark Riley made an emergency declaration which banned fireworks by all non-professionals throughout the county.

That ban was extended by Gov. Greg Abbott July 5.

However, the threat of wildfires, hasn’t been the only impact to the area.

The length and severity of dry spell led the USDA to issue a disaster declaration Aug. 15 to allow those affected – especially farmers and ranchers – access to federal programs.

A graphic showing the number of claims made due to the drought has Texas at the top of the list more than 240 impacts noted so far since the declaration.

DROUGHT MONITOR

The NOAA weekly Drought Monitor showed Tarrant, Wise, and Parker counties to be under Severe or Extreme drought conditions as early as the July 3 issuance.

Extreme drought conditions were noted in the area the weeks of July 26 and Aug. 9.

Those are classified as conditions that are likely to produce “major crop and pasture loss” and “widespread water shortages or restrictions.”

Severe conditions are defined as those that are also likely to produce crop losses and lead to water shortages.

The first monitor that noted drought conditions was issued June 14 when the area was first classified as being in a Moderate drought.

TS GORDON

Likely only making a small impact, if any, in the ongoing drought were the few showers that fell on Labor Day and early in the week throughout the Metroplex.

And, the recently formed Tropical Storm Gordon will likely be of little help.

After forming just west of the Florida Keys just after 8 a.m. on Sept. 3, early forecasts showed a chance of impacts to North Texas.

Revised outlooks on Sept. 4, however, show meteorologists expect a second U.S. landfall late Tuesday in western Mississippi, and revised paths predict the storm to miss North Texas entirely, eventually dying out over Oklahoma and Arkansas late in the week.

FALL/WINTER

FORECASTS

NOAA, in its longterm forecasts, predicts as much as 40 percent higher-than-average rain and snow chances through the beginning of 2019.

However, the forecasted impact to the drought is marginal at best.

The Aug. 15 Drought Forecast issued by the organization predicts drought conditions to remain throughout much of North and Central Texas through early 2019.

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