How Did the Rain This Week Impact Our Drought?
Tuesday night's precipitation event was a gamechanger for our drought, or so you may think. West Texans have been elated over the first big rainstorm of the year, with Lubbock officially receiving 0.71 inches and locations like Denver City accumulating almost two inches in just a matter of hours!
The left photo shows this week's levels and the right photo shows last Thursday's update.
While this is a substantial increase from our previous totals, as you can see from the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor that was published this morning, it hardly made an impact whatsoever on our current drought status. In fact, the majority of the South Plains is still under the Exceptional Drought Category (the worst level of drought possible), with Scurry County being the only location that saw some minor improvements. This leaves many folks wondering why such a big event didn't make even a small dent.
It is important to remember how dry the ground has been over the past few months. This impacts the amount of moisture that can physically be absorbed. Researchers with the Department of Horticulture Sciences at Texas A&M University note that "often times heavy, fast rain events are not effective at re-wetting the soil profile. In most cases much of this water runs off rather than in the soil."
This is why we need multiple rain events that bring moderate totals to the region. When we have smaller, but more frequent events, it allows the ground to more effectively absorb the water, making a more substantial dent in our drought. Unfortunately though, for at least the next week, we will be staying hot and dry across the South Plains. Hopefully, we will at least see a small improvement in levels when we get a fuller picture of this week's events in the next update.
This means we need to keep praying for more rain in the forecast. Until then, try to conserve water and make a point to water your lawns and plants during late evening and early morning hours when less evaporation will occur.