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Don’t take rain for granted

The sound of rain falling on the roof in mid-June has become such an alien sound in North Texas that many area residents probably thought their ears were playing tricks with them the past couple of mornings.

Some may have believed that the faint but steady drumming they heard was the air-conditioning unit already struggling to keep pace with the Texas heat.

But that persistent dripping sound wasn’t the result of a leaky faucet, and the driveway wasn’t wet because the sprinkler system had malfunctioned.

No, it was rain, sweet rain.

Having rainy days this late in June is helping farmers and ranchers save on feed expenses and look forward to an extra cutting of hay — something that has been a rarity in the past few years. This week, we talked to a feed store owner and a local cattleman to find out how the recent rains have helped them and area farmers. Though slightly challenging for anyone trying to harvest a crop right now, the rains have been mostly welcome, they told us — replenishing stock tanks, rain barrels and helping pasture grasses thrive.

“It’s a blessing for people in the cattle business,” Glenn Carlton, owner of Carlton Cattle Co. and executive director of the North Texas Fair and Rodeo, told us. “Rain cures a lot of problems.”

It’s also helping homeowners reduce the need to water their lawns, easing the strain on area lakes.

The grass is green, gardens are lush and the produce seems to be thriving. It’s quite a change from recent years when a typical mid-June day saw the mercury top out at or above the 100-degree mark.

There’s nothing like starting the day with a breath of cool air and the delicious aroma of damp earth. And the cooling effect of the rain is not just psychological — more comfortable temperatures mean lower utility bills.

In the past two days, Denton has had .84 of an inch of rain, and more may be possible before the sun begins to warm things up again by this afternoon.

National Weather Service forecasters say the normal high ridge that caps North Texas and keeps the storms from cold fronts at bay has been located farther south than usual. This has allowed an extra rainy day or two to edge into the North Texas forecast — providing a welcome respite for North Texans before the annual onslaught of triple-digit summer days.

But those who know North Texas weather best tell us not to become complacent. The area is still suffering from a drought and the rain we’ve received hasn’t lessened the need for conservation and awareness.

Like we said, the driveway may have been cool and rain slick this morning, but the pavement will soon be hot enough to cook an egg, and while that may be a Texas cliché, longtime residents know that it’s based on harsh reality.

Thanks to a growing population and lower rainfall totals in the last couple of years, water is becoming ever more precious in Texas. Just ask those in South and West Texas who have had to truck in water, lay new pipelines, conserve year round and develop new strategies for long-term water availability.

So, enjoy the wet weather, but don’t take the rain for granted. We need to make every drop count by continuing to conserve.