Monday, July 8, 2013
Small chance of spotty daytime rain expected Monday as drought worsens
We need nearly 12 inches of rain, but we won't get it today.
DALLAS We began last week with near-record low temperatures. We begin this one with the vague hint of the possibility of a suggestion of a shower — a 20 percent chance of wet stuff later today. “Which isn’t great,” says Fort Worth-based National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh. “It’s better than zero, and it’s certainly a little higher than what we’ve had. But it is what is: 20 percent.”
At this point in the summer, that almost qualifies as Breaking News: Dallas-Fort Worth is now five inches below normal for annual rainfall, and while we’ve seen relatively few 100-degree days this deep into the summer, the drought in North Texas has begun to intensify. Says Cavanaugh, U.S. Drought Monitor maps show that for the entire region, “We need about nine to 12 inches of rain to get out of drought range at this point, so we need some substantial rainfall.”
That’s far, far, far from likely today.
The reason we even have a shot at rain today is because of persistent southeast winds that have brought what Cavanaugh calls a “nice plume of moisture into the area,” as opposed to those southwest winds that usually drop a cap over Dallas-Fort Worth this time of year choking off any rain chances. Between that tropical moisture and daytime heating — temperatures are headed for the mid-90s — we could see some spotty “heat-driven storms,” says Cavanaugh, “like you get in Florida or the Gulf Coast, but nothing organized.”
We need far more than disorganized and spotty. But that’ll have to do: An upper-level ridge of high pressure to our north will drop into Texas tomorrow, bringing with it that sinking hot air that forms The Cap that turns rain chances into distant memories. And while there are the occasional glimpses of good news here and there far, far down the road — early next week, for instance, when it could be in the low 90s — we’re heading into the driest part of the summer, as though there’s such a thing any longer with North Texas now in the moderate to severe parts of the drought map.
“We have a couple of systems that could bring us some rainfall,” says Cavanaugh. “But is it likely to be the nine to 12 inches we need? Not likely. That’s hard to do in the summer. But we’ll take whatever we can get — anything to hold us back till we can get into the wet-weather months. It also helps that it hasn’t been super-hot yet. But if we hit consistent 100-degree heat, it won’t be easy keeping moisture in the vegetation, and by mid-week we’re looking pretty hot” — as in, around 100 to 102 for daytime highs.
There’s one consolation, says Cavanaugh: “At least it’s not 2011. At least we’re not there yet.”