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Drought conditions hang tough

Profile image for By Matthew Zabel / Staff Writer
By Matthew Zabel / Staff Writer
Texas Woman’s University senior Natoshia Hamilton was bundled up as she walked across campus in the cold on Monday.
Texas Woman’s University senior Natoshia Hamilton was bundled up as she walked across campus in the cold on Monday.

Monday morning's snow flurries and rain provided some much-needed short-term drought relief, but meteorologists say drought conditions are expected to continue in the long term.

The area's rainfall total is still about 10 inches below normal for the year, said Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Denton received more than 2.3 inches of rain between Friday and Monday, he said, and cool temperatures will keep the soil saturated for a few weeks. Snow accumulation was less than a half-inch in Denton County and concentrated most in the northwest half of the county, he said.

"As long as we're cool, evaporation is slower," Harris said. "This moisture could last two to three weeks. With a 2-inch rain in the summer heat, it will cook out in three to four days."

The runoff from the rain was minimal, he said.

"I would not imagine the reservoir levels will rise more than 2 or 3 inches," he said.

The area wouldn't necessarily need a magical 10 inches of rain to end the drought, he said, but the weather pattern would need to change.

"You want to watch for the rain frequency pattern to change, and we don't expect that to happen," Harris said. "You could get a hurricane and get 20 inches of rain, but if it doesn't rain again for another nine months, you're back in a drought."

Janet Laminack, a horticulture agent with Denton County's Texas AgriLife Extension office, said the timing of rain is far more important to the soil than the amount.

On Monday, the soil was saturated and some of the moisture was running off, she said, so that would benefit the lakes and the aquifers the most.

"Because we have a closed soil, it takes a little while for the moisture to percolate through," she said.

The benefit to plants would be less, Laminack said. The rain would have done a lot more good a few weeks ago before many plants and trees went dormant.

"None of us is going to complain about the rain," Laminack said. "But timing is the big factor when it comes to rain."

The rain moved out Monday afternoon. Temperatures were expected to dip below freezing to about 30 degrees overnight and rise to about 40 degrees today.

MATTHEW ZABEL can be reached at 940-566-6884. His e-mail address is mzabel@dentonrc.com .