Texoma receives above average rainfall for 2017

Michael Hutchins Herald Democrat

Parts of Grayson County will end the year with six or more inches or rain above average, the National Weather Service said this week. This follows a roller coaster of weather patterns throughout the year that saw severe dry spells following flooding and the wettest August on record for the region.

“Often after a wet period we can have an equally dry period,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Daniel Huckaby, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This spring and summer were very wet, overall.”

With less than two weeks remaining in the year, Huckaby said a co-op weather station in Sherman has recorded a total of 49.83 inches of rain for 2017. This includes 2.16 inches of rain that has been recorded for the month of December.

Based on the 30-year average, the weather station usually records about 43.6 inches of rain.

A second weather station at North Texas Regional Airport has recorded 36.91 inches for the year. However, Huckaby said this automated station is known to have had issues reporting data and is prone to outages. As such, he feels the co-op station is a closer representation of the rainfall this year.

Despite being above average, 2017’s totals will likely not compare to 2015, which saw s record-breaking 77 inches of rainfall by year’s end. Notably, the year saw four months with more than nine inches of rainfall. For 2017, the largest rainfall came in August when portions of the region saw 17 inches of rain. Locally, the Sherman co-op station recorded more than 13 inches for the month.

Following trends seen in 2017, the heavy spring and early summer rains seen in 2015 were followed by a dry spell later in the summer. Huckaby said this is not unheard of with La Niña weather patterns like we are seeing currently in Texas.

The main concern with extreme rain followed by severe drought is that it leaves the region primed for grass fires, Huckaby said. With the heavy rains in August, plant-life and grass had a lot of moisture to fuel grow. As conditions dry, this plant-life dies off, leaving fuel for fires.

In its weekly water report, the Texas Water Development Board said the region is still in a state of severe drought, however this is based on data before storms that passed through the region over the weekend and earlier this week. Among the data used is a drought map from the United States Drought Monitor that was compiled on Dec. 12 and released Dec. 14.

This recent rainfall will be reflected in the next update, which will likely come some time next week.

This week’s report found some relief from drought conditions across the state, but drought persisted or intensified in North Texas. A band of extreme drought developed from Lamar County east to Bowie County.

“In the last week, drought retreated in South Texas but intensified in the northeast,” TWDB hydrologist Mark Wentzel said in the report. “Statewide, the area impacted by moderate drought or worse decreased by 11 percentage points. The total area of severe drought was unchanged, but extreme drought emerged in parts of five counties.”