The bloated clouds that rolled across East Texas skies last week didn’t do too much when it came to hydration, although the area is still marginally better off than average.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Jason Hansford said during the first half of this month, the area has received less than two inches of rain at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport — about 1.78 inches. Such a small number, though, is still above average, even if it is by .09 inches, he said.
But the past three months have not been kind to Smith County when it comes to dribbles of rain.
Hansford said April, May and June accounted for a mere 6.37 inches of rain, or about 51.7 percent, of the 12.32 inches expected for those three months in total.
The numbers have kept dropping since March, when the area recorded 6.38 inches of rain, or 2.26 inches more rain than average, he said.
As the storms moved on to wetter pastures east of the state line, where the system poured most of its moisture, the last chances of significant rainfall for the next week went with them, he said.
“Unless something develops pretty much directly overhead or to your south there, chances are pretty slim of you getting rainfall, especially for this time of year,” he said.
But there’s a bright side to the lack of clouds, though, even with numbers on the low end.
The wet spring and winter seasons have kept the areas fields moist, and despite the shrinking rainfall totals area farmers are in a good mood, Texas AgriLife Extension Agent Chad Gulley said.
Local farmers are “pretty optimistic (and) pretty excited because, last year, we were so hot and dry and didn’t make any hay, a lot of our crops just dried up and suffered,” he said. “This year, they’re making some pretty good yields.”
Hay production is up, enough so that Gulley said farmers should be able to stock up for the winter, maybe with a little left over to send out to their confederates in parched western Texas.
Temperatures have stayed lower, due in large part to rain continuing to come into the area in any amounts, Hansford said.
When the mercury started boiling last year at the end of June, it was exasperated by the utter lack of rain. In July, which recorded 31 days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees, East Texas had a meager .08 inches of rain recorded, Hansford said.
As of Monday, thermometers had yet to reach above 97 degrees, he said.
“How we’re trending this year and last year (are) completely different,” he said.
That’s a trend weather models are indicating will continue through the rest of the summer and into the winter and fall, Hansford predicted.
The demise of La Niņa is giving meteorologists hope for a wet, cool winter as the Pacific Ocean’s fickle pattern shifts into El Niņo, a cooling of ocean waters, he said.
Still, East Texas’ notorious swings in weather aren’t being forgotten, Gulley said, and agriculturalists still are wary of a relapse.
“I wouldn’t say we’re out of everything yet,” he said, citing the inconsistent way rain has fallen on some landowners and not others. “It’s kind of hit and miss, but it’s a lot better and a lot nicer than it was last year at this time.”