Storms bring much-needed rain to Wichita Falls

Published on Sunday, 8 June 2014 15:49 - Written by Tami Abdollah, Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Drought-stricken Wichita Falls finally got a heavy dose of rain when a storm system moved eastward over the North Texas city overnight.

Wichita Falls got 1.24 inches of rain from the system, which battered parts of West Texas with baseball-sized hail and powerful wind gusts earlier earlier Sunday and late Saturday night, the National Weather Service said.

Odell, which is 60 miles west of Wichita Falls, got 5.11 inches of precipitation.

Wichita Falls has gotten about 45 percent of normal rainfall from May 1 through Saturday, or 2.32 inches. May and June are the wettest months in Texas.

There was minor flooding in some parts of West Texas, but no injuries were reported.

More rain was forecast for West Texas and areas east of it, including Wichita Falls, later Sunday.

Flash flood watches were in effect Sunday across much of West Texas.

Weather service officials said a 96 mph wind gust was recorded southwest of Lubbock near Wolfforth late Saturday. Meteorologist Forrest Mitchell, in Norman, Oklahoma, said the weekend rain would only provide a temporary reprieve for Wichita Falls, which is in its fourth straight year of drought.

"This is not the drought buster," he said. "It will be interesting to see how beneficial this rainfall has been in the short term."

The two lakes that provide the city's water were a combined 24.5 percent full June 2.

The end of February marked the driest 41-month period for Wichita Falls since record-keeping began in 1897.

The city's residents are under Stage 5 water restrictions, which prohibit any outdoor watering or filling of residential swimming pools with city water. The city is doing tests for the state to start a wastewater re-use program, which will save a third of residents' current daily usage, city officials said. Fifty percent of the water would come from toilets, dish and clothes washers, and sinks, showers and baths.

Amarillo has gotten 2.41 inches in the past three days and is now ahead of normal for the year. Lubbock got about .8 inches at Preston Smith International Airport since Friday and is slightly ahead of normal for the year.

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