The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Welcome to Dallas

(It’s normally not this wet…)

Rain storms across Texas have borne a thousand soggy stories during one of the wettest Junes on record.

A National Weather Service meteorologist measured 11.1 inches at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport for the month.

That’s just half an inch less than what fell in 1928, the wettest June on record.

At least 11 people have died, while others are coping with the loss of home or possessions. Most simply have tales of inconvenience – washed-out roads, irritating delays, rained-out ball games. There are also the happy few: ranchers pleased by thoughts of lush pastures, fat cattle and lucrative hay harvests.

“There’s always something exciting to talk about with the weather,” said Greg Patrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s really dry or really wet and stormy.”

Texans have experienced both extremes in recent years.

Entering 2007, Texas was coming off back-to-back drought years. The state’s agriculture sector suffered through $4.1 billion in crop and livestock losses in 2006, its worst year on record. The drought also contributed to deadly wildfires that ravaged more than 2 million acres, the most destructive in state history.

As recently as March, meteorologists were predicting dry conditions in April, May and June.

Instead, a low pressure system has parked over Texas, interacting with moist southerly wind from the Gulf of Mexico to dump rain everywhere and every day.

“That along with daytime heating from the sun … set the large-scale pattern,” Patrick said. “Those are the ingredients for showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain this time of year.”

It’s been a June for the record books, one in which the sound of summer has become the garish electronic screech that precedes weather warning messages on the state emergency broadcast system, and the ubiquitous electronic highway signs now warn motorists about flooded roadways: “TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN.”

Austin had gotten 7.49 inches, nearly double the normal rainfall expected in the June, the weather service said Saturday.

And then there’s Marble Falls, about 40 miles northwest of Austin, where about 18 inches of rain fell overnight early this past week. Flooding stranded people on their roofs and atop vehicles. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurt said the debris and devastation was reminiscent of Hurricane Rita, which struck in 2005.

The Red River at Gainesville, just south of the Oklahoma border, also had overflowed by three feet, the National Weather Service said.

The National Weather Service expected rain to continue dumping on already sopped parts of North Texas, perhaps up through early to mid-July, because of a lingering tropical-like air mass.

Hundreds had to evacuate their homes in central and northern Texas because of flooding. Rescues were too numerous to count.

President Bush has declared Texas a major disaster area after the relentless storms continued to dump rain on already soaked areas.

Bush ordered federal aid for Cooke, Coryell, Denton, Grayson, Lampasas and Tarrant counties.

Gov. Rick Perry declared disaster areas in 37 counties across Texas. Residents of those counties will have access to state assistance programs.

Beyond the destruction, however, the rain has brought hope to farmers and ranchers formerly plagued by drought.

“I will never, ever complain about too much rain,” said Debbie Davis, a cattle rancher near Tarpley.

“The pastures are excellent and hay production already has far surpassed what total hay production was all last year,” said Dwyatt Bell, a banker and rancher in Sulphur Springs. “We are in good shape.”

Many homeowners would disagree.

The rain also affects recreation throughout the state. The Lower Colorado River Authority closed Inks Lake and lakes Travis, Marble Falls and LBJ to recreational boating because of floating debris.

The ban will be re-evaluated daily. Austin closed recreational activities on Lake Austin, Town Lake and the Colorado River downstream of Longhorn Dam.

Golf courses have closed – one employee at a course in Arlington joked it had become one huge water hazard – and baseball games have been canceled. The nine-team Texas Collegiate League has had 28 rainouts and one team, the Coppell Copperheads, had 7 of its 17 scheduled games rained out.

The Round Rock Express, a Triple-A team near Austin, had its first rainout in eight seasons, one postponement and three lengthy delays.

But there’s another aspect to the stormy weather – so far, there have been fewer 100-degree days than normal.

“The question we keep hearing is whether this rain will lead to less heat and our answer is it will probably have some effect,” Patrick said. “A lot of the sun’s energy will go toward evaporating the moisture in the ground.”

– Story and photo by Associated Press, graphic by Mark Norris

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