Flooded, washed-out streets. Downed trees blocking roads. Damage wrought by tornadoes touching down in the southern part of Cherokee County in April.
All are part of inclement weather from the first several months of 2019, but state officials are predicting that from July on, the weather will be slightly dryer.
Information was requested from the Texas A&M Forest Service for a period that began Memorial Day Weekend (May 24) and concludes on Labor Day (Sept. 2), traditionally considered “summer break,” as it coincides with the break between school years for students.
According to Scott Breit, a fire weather analyst with the Texas A&M Forest Service, recent “radar rain estimates point to six to eight inches across Cherokee County since May 24, above normal rainfall – which is five inches for that period.”
And rainfall totals during the past two-week period (June 18 to July 1) at the Jacksonville Airport were 4.79 inches, or slightly below normal, he said.
Meanwhile, county residents can “expect a drier July and August overall compared to late May and June across Cherokee County, with rainfall near- to below normal,” he said. “We're estimating three to five inches during this period.”
Breit noted that “a typical East Texas summer brings 10 to 20 inches of rain,” with higher totals in the event of a tropical cyclone whose patterns affect the local area.
“At least three to four days out of seven observe scattered p.m. thunderstorms simply due to daytime heating and available Gulf moisture,” he explained. “The trigger for storms is often a small-scale feature like old thunderstorm outflow boundaries that act like many cold fronts (do), or a daily Gulf of Mexico sea breeze that moves inland before the setting sun destroys it.
“This year looks to be pretty typical as excessive periods of heat and dryness,” with active tropical cyclones precluding long stretches of dryness or wetness, he said.
Officials remind folks to use caution if out and about when a thunderstorm develops.
“All thunderstorms are capable of developing quickly, generating dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning within 10 miles of its location – 'when you hear thunder, run asunder!' – and producing locally heavy downpours with considerable ponding of water on poor drainage roads,” Breit said. “Local thunderstorms will typically rain themselves out within 30 to 60 minutes and are hit-and-miss in most cases.”