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Brazos Valley needs rain: Here’s the staggering reason why

Dry and drought conditions only being rapidly made worse by exceptional, early season heat
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 9:34 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The Brazos Valley is in need of a decent drink of water. This statement likely shocks literally nobody. Ask farmers, ranchers, or your front lawn and the answer is very clear. According to NOAA, a foot of rain or more is needed to bring soil moisture back to what is expected by this point in the year.

As of the last week of June, the following counties are in some sort of state of drought: Lee • Burleson • Washington • Austin • Waller • Grimes • Montgomery • Brazos. The worst of those conditions, where “severe” to “extreme” drought are noted, extends from Brenham to Navasota, to Hempstead, to Bellville.

As pastures, lawns, and area vegetation continue to become increasingly parched, Burn Bans have gone back into place for 10 of the 16 counties that make up the area (as of Wednesday, June 22nd). Those counties are shaded in orange below and include: Milam • Burleson • Lee • Austin • Waller • Grimes • Madison • Walker • Trinity • San Jacinto.

Brazos Valley Burn Bans, as of June 22
Brazos Valley Burn Bans, as of June 22(KBTX)

Without a considerable soaking, county officials in the remaining six will have to make significant choices on issuing a ban or not as the Fourth of July holiday approaches in a little over a week.

HERE’S HOW MUCH RAIN IS NEEDED TO GET BACK ON TRACK

As of June 22nd, here’s where Bryan-College Station stands for official rainfall so far this year:

  • Year-to-Date Rainfall: 15.46″
  • Expected Average Rainfall: Just under 11″
  • Year-to-Date Rainfall Deficit: -4.89″
  • Months that collected average/above average rainfall: January • March • April
  • June Rainfall Deficit: 2.94″

On paper, while below average, the Brazos Valley seems to be generally on track for rainfall this year. However, due to the sporadic nature of the few rain events that occurred during the spring and the exceptional, record heat straight through May and June, much more than 5″ of rain is needed to get the area out of dry and drought conditions. According to NOAA, 12″ to 15″ of rain is needed over a four-week period to bring soil moisture back to or near average for this time in the year.

The current outlook from NOAA on how much rain is needed to ease dry and drought conditions
The current outlook from NOAA on how much rain is needed to ease dry and drought conditions(NOAA)

The same amount of rain is needed across much of East, Central, and parts of West Texas. The coastal plains of the state need 15″ or more to get back on track and out of drought conditions.

RAINFALL FORECAST

A weak area of low pressure slipping along the Lousiana and Upper Texas Coast combined with a flimsy cold front from the north could increase the odds of scattered rain and thunderstorms early in the upcoming week. Optimistically, up to or just over an inch of rain is not ruled out for parts of the area in the final days of June. Considering the uneven nature of the activity, heavy downpours are expected for some while others could completely miss out on this needed moisture.

Climate Prediction Center's rainfall outlook for the month of July
Climate Prediction Center's rainfall outlook for the month of July(KBTX)

According to the Climate Prediction Center, July’s temperatures are once again expected to end significantly above average. The rainfall outlook calls for about a 30% chance of drier-than-average rainfall. To that end, July is typically the lowest yielding month for rain, with an expected average of only 1.98″.

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