Relief from the heat in sight.

Staff Writer
Runnels County Register
The U.S. Drought Monitor started in 2000. Since 2000, the longest duration of drought (D1-D4) in Texas lasted 271 weeks beginning on May 4, 2010 and ending on July 7, 2015. The most intense period of drought occurred the week of October 4, 2011 where D4 affected 87.99% of Texas land.

The 31 days of August found Runnels County with 18 days of 100+ degree heat. August 3rd was an anomaly with a high of only 89 degrees. Hot, dry summers with stifling heat, blow dryer wind and the UV index in the extreme are expected in west Texas.

September is bringing some relief from the oppressive heat. We ended August 31st with a 30% chance of rain and started September 1st with a 50% chance of rain. Wednesday had a 30% chance of rain with a high of 91.

Today, September 3rd, we have a 30%-40% chance of rain (depending on which weather site you get your predictions from) with a high of 88. There are some severe thunderstorms expected to move across the area for a day or two. AccuWeather predicts 2 hours of rain up to 0.27 inch today. The National Weather Service has put out a warning for a severe thunderstorm risk.

Friday we have another 50% chance of rain, with a high of 88 and a low of 68. Saturday will have a high of 90, low of 64 and a 20% chance of rain. We are not expected to hit triple digit heat in September as a cold front makes its way to Texas.

For the first time in months, Runnels County has a chance for rain 10 days in a row. Granted, most of those days the rain chances are in the 10% - 30% rain, but, moreover, they offer hope of relief every day, something to look forward to other than getting from the a/c of your car into the a/c of your house as quickly as possible.

Mother Nature has not been kind to farmers and ranchers this year, with most areas receiving less than 20“ of rain overall. Spring did not bring much rainfall. Crops have suffered without rain for weeks at a time, in days that reach 108 degrees. The week of August 9th was brutal. Sunday started out at 100 degrees. That was followed by 101 on Monday, 101 on Tuesday, 105 on Wednesday, 106 on Thursday, 108 on Friday, 107 on Saturday and 104 on the following Sunday.

In addition, local Volunteer Fire Departments have done a commendable job fighting numerous wildfires this year. One VFW even lost a 5-ton truck to a fire. The fire fighters quietly go about their work of saving farms and ranches in scorching heat without fanfare. Without them, this parched landscape would be a blackened landscape and we offer our sincerest appreciation to all VFWs for their outstanding work and sacrifice. Their job would be a lot harder without the help of local businesses, such as Russell Byler Dirt Construction who provide dozers, manpower and other equipment needed to fight those fires.

The landscape is parched, with no subsurface moisture to speak of. The Keetch-Byram Drought index has Runnels County ranked as one of the worst in the state, with a 629 Index Value, on a scale of 0-800. According to WaterDatatForTexas.org, “The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is an index used in determining forest fire potential. The drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions. Presently, this index is derived from ground based estimates of temperature and precipitation derived from weather stations and interpolated manually by experts at the Texas Forest Service (TFS) for counties across the state.”

The first week of September has had only one day above 100 degrees, which was Monday when the mercury hit 102. Three of the days only got up into the 80s. The second week of September is predicted, by AccuWeather, to be the first pleasant week, weather-wise, in a long time. Sunday, September 6th will have a high of 97, Monday, September 7th will have a high of 94. Then we hit the 80s, with Tuesday, hitting 86 degrees, Wednesday will only see us getting up to 80 degrees, Thursday has a projected high of 82, Friday, 87 and Saturday, 89. Sunday will be in the high 80s.

AccuWeather also predicts that nighttime temperatures, which have struggled to get below the 70-degree mark, are expected to drop into the 60s.