May 23, 2014

North Texas may get soaker next week

While no drought-buster, storms next week could help DFW lakes.

The long-awaited soaker that actually may put a dent in the drought could be on the way toward the end of the Memorial Day weekend.

Even better, it looks like most of the rain will come after the weekend’s big events like the Crowne Plaza Invitiational at Colonial.

So many times this year, these promising forecasts have done little to green lawns or fill area lakes. That’s why this is the fourth-driest start to a year on record with only 5.16 inches of rain since Jan. 1

“There’s really no great consensus as to when it is going to happen,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Shoemaker. “But it looks like we’re going to see some good rain chances on Tuesday.”

What has forecasters hopeful is that a cut-off low pressure system, which has a complete circulation similar to a tropical storm, can be an ideal rain-maker. It is currently moving slowly across Arizona but it is expected to drift eastward this weekend.

If it slows down or stalls to the northwest of the DFW area, that would be ideal. If it drifts further to the east and settles over northern Arkansas, that could mean less rain.

“There are some computer model estimates that are all the way up to 7 inches but I think a good conservative, estimate would probably be an inch to two inches with hopes for more,” Shoemaker said.

While there will be slight chance of rain Friday night, it should be dry most of Saturday and Sunday. There’s a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday night, 40 percent on Monday and Monday night before climbing to 60 percent on Tuesday.

Forecasters are also expecting rain for many of the hardest hit areas to the west and northwest of Fort Worth.

While Wichita Falls hasn’t received any rain, some areas further west around Childress have already seen rain, Shoemaker said.

The rain could also be beneficial for many of the lakes that supply water to Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

The West Fork of the Trinity River, which has been the driest conditions since the drought of the 1950s, could actually see water flowing back into the lakes next week.

“I think it could do a tremendous amount (of good) if the forecast is anywhere near correct,” said David Marshall, engineering services director for the Tarrant Regional Water District.

It would take about an inch and a half of rain to start getting runoff into Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake.

Some forecast models are suggesting a 3 or 4 inch rain is possible northwest of Fort Worth, which would really help those lakes.

“If we get those types of rains in the right place, it would mean we could get roughly half the water we drink this summer from this storm,” Marshall said.

Or, it could be a trickle rather than a deluge.

“The wild card is the track of this low,” Shoemaker said, “but any rain in West Texas is going to make ranchers jump for joy.”

Parts of the High Plains and Texas Panhandle were already feeling the effects of the approaching storm system.

Lubbock and Amarillo have had more precipitation over the last two days than what they had seen for the entire year.

The National Weather Service in Lubbock on Friday recorded 1.56 inches of precipitation. The city had seen just .95 inches of precipitation since the first of the year.

Amarillo’s rain on Thursday led to some flooding on Interstate 40 but no injuries reported. Amarillo has recorded nearly 1.50 inches of precipitation since the rain began Thursday. That compared to just .21 inches of precipitation for Amarillo since Jan. 1.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

This report contained information from the Associated Press.

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