2009 above average, but fighting uphill battle in erasing 3-year rainfall deficit

 

By KEVIN DONALDSON

CELINA-The first half of 2009 hasn’t been a drought-buster by any means, but it is running considerably ahead of the precipitation totals registered here the past three years.

Three months with six-plus inches of rainfall has put 2009 about a month ahead of the 30-year average, coming on the heels of a substantial three-year shortfall.

Extremely wet months of January, April and May have put the year’s total a bit over four inches above normal, National Weather Service stats show, with the other three months actually below normal rainfall. 

The NWS station here recorded 6.90 inches of total precipitation in January (4.47 normal), 6.20 inches in April (4.29 normal) and a whopping 7.09 inches in May (5.41 normal–historically the wettest month of the year). 

February was actually quite dry after the soggy January, with only 2.64 inches of rain, while March and June were just slightly below normal. 

The total precipitation for 2009 through the end of June was 31.92, just over four and a quarter inches (roughly a month’s worth of rain) above the average from 1971-2000.  Our annual precipitation recorded by the NWS over that period was 52.34 inches of rain and snow. 

 

Big deficit persists

The ground sure has seemed soggy at times this year, but have you noticed how quickly it has dried out when we have a few days without rain and with wind? (By the way, is it my imagination or does the wind blow more here than it used to?)

There’s a good reason why the ground has been drying out so quickly: that significant three-year drought we had in 2006-08. The water table has dropped and it doesn’t take long for the ground to just soak it up after a few days. 

Unofficially, the Celina station recorded in the neighborhood of a 35-inch deficit of total precipitation over that three-year drought, and I’m not sure what kind of deficit we had in 2005. The situation could be slightly worse. 

To put it in more blunt terms, that 35-inch shortfall is the equivalent of eight months of rain for us here. Spread over a 36-month period, and based on our annual average, that would be like getting no rain every fourth month or thereabouts. 

We’ve got a way to go on catching up, but 2009 is doing its part so far. Another six months of extra precipitation in the second half of the year would help tremendously.  If the rain we had over the weekend (1.09 inches on Sunday, .78 inches on Saturday) is any indication, we’re off to a good start.