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Area rainfall hit and miss
By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON – A record 12.91 inches of rain has fallen so far this year, according to Wellington KVII SchoolNet Weather Station.
The total was 11.51 inches prior to a storm July 23 that dumped 1.40 inches on Collingsworth County.
West Texas Mesonet at Dozier in Collingsworth County shows 9.65 inches so far for 2020, and a total of 24.81 inches average for the five-year period – 2015-2019.
The July 23 rain added 0.54 inches to Sanmorwood’s prior total of 9.56 inches for a year-to-date amount of 10.10 inches, according to SchoolNet.
Childress recorded 0.92 inches of rainfall July 22 bringing the yearly total to 12.96 inches since Jan. 1, 2020, according to the online KVII SchoolNet Weather Station.
Hedley, in eastern Donley County, has had 11.06 with no moisture recorded on July 23.
For Memphis, the WT Mesonet site shows 9.37 inches for the year with an average of 20.71 inches falling annually each of the last 16 years.
According to Hall County Judge Ray Powell, the Hall County Commissioners Court enacted a 30-day burn ban during the July 13 meeting.
“On Aug. 10, at our next meeting, we will reconsider whether or not to extend the ban depending on the rainfall between now and then,” he said. “It seems like Clarendon is getting all the rainfall this year.”
Howardwick, just north of Clarendon, shows an annual rainfall amount of 15.92 inches for 2020, according to SchoolNet.
Mesquite Groundwater Conservation District (MGCD) monitors rainfall at 37 locations scattered across Collingsworth, Hall, northern Childress and eastern Briscoe counties. MGCD staff analyzed data from these locations for the first half of 2018, 2019 and 2020.
“There were wide variations from gauge to gauge and from month to month, but a few trends stood out,” said MGCD General Manager Lynn Smith. “First, the averages show that 2018 and 2020 were significantly drier than expected across the district. The average rainfall for this area is 12.52 inches for January through June using NWS (National Weather Service) historic data.”
Reports show the average measured rainfall in 2018 for that period was 10 inches. In 2020, the amount was at 11.9 inches but still below normal. The year 2019 was very wet during that same period with the average being 15.8 inches.
“Second, the most rainfall at a gauge station and the least rainfall at a gauge station during those three years for that period both occurred in 2019,” Smith said. “That is to say, for a given station, 2019 was either very wet or very dry. This was due to rainfall patterns that trended toward individual storms that either inundated an area or missed it entirely.”
The end result of this type of pattern is poor infiltration and low groundwater recharge for the majority of the heavier stormwater; it just became runoff and well, ran off, according to Smith.
“Climate in an area can and does change, but the reasons for that change are hotly debated, (pun intended),” he said. “Many climate models suggest that the pattern we saw in 2019 may actually become the norm for our region. In a few hundred years, we will know if they are correct in that prediction.”
In the meantime, Smith recommends including catchment basins that can temporarily store runoff from larger storms as part of a groundwater recharge plan where land use and terrain permit. For residential yards, a rainwater harvesting system sized for the larger storm volumes might be best.