Finally, many a hope and prayer have been answered. Hopkins County got rain — and lots of it — which hopefully will signal the start of the rainy season, which area farmers depend upon for their livelihood. In one day, from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday, the area received a whopping 2.49 inches of rain. That’s nearly twice the amount of precipitation in February when only 1.27 inches fell, and still half an inch more than in January, when only 1.98 inches fell in Sulphur Springs.
While January 2009 saw 0.71 more than the 1.27 in January of 2008, February’s overall total was 2.54 inches behind the 2008 tally. Overall, that still puts 2009 1.83 inches behind last year’s pace.
March of last year had a whopping 10.30 inches of rainfall for the month, with 11 days of rain. Only one of the 11 rain days last March posted collections under 0.5 inch. So far, we’ve had two days of rain with 0.02 inch collected by 8 a.m. Wednesday. The most collected in a day in March 2008 was 3.74 inches of rain on March 19, followed by 2.11 inches on March 31. Through March 13, 3.63 inches of rain had fallen. We are still below that this week, but if the current rain pattern continues, we could catch up to last year’s pace by Saturday.
Thursday afternoon there’s a 20 percent change of rain, which increases to 50 percent tonight. Rain is expected to continue into Friday, with predictions at 90 percent during the day, then dropping off during the night with only a 40 percent chance, then down to 20 percent during the day Saturday and no rain expect Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service’s 10:30 a.m. forecast.
While the area has been in need of rainfall due to the dry vegetation from the colder winter months which have been ripe for wildfires, the deluge of continual precipitation also brings its own difficulties — like slick, wet roads and possible flooding, particularly in low-lying areas.
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, county officials had received reports of only one road closed in Hopkins County. A motorist told deputies around 6:45 a.m. that FM 71 west near the Hopkins-Hunt County line had been covered in water since about 5:45 Thursday morning. Deputies checked the road and it was indeed impassible. Texas Department of Transportation officials were contacted and were out putting up road barriers and signs warning that FM 71 west is closed until the water recedes.
Three incidents had been reported as of early Thursday morning of vehicles experiencing road difficulties due to the weather. The first occurred at 7:48 a.m. Wednesday, when a vehicle had apparently lost control and slid off Interstate 30 west into the ditch at the 127 mile marker. The second was reported at 3:28 p.m. A gray car reportedly went off County Road 1152 at County Road 1156 and got stuck in the mud. The third incident occurred just after midnight Wednesday, when a man told dispatchers that he’d lost control of his vehicle and slid off Interstate 30 west at the Brashear exit.
Texas Department of Transportation and at least one county precinct road crew were alerted Wednesday that trees and limbs had fallen onto roadways, further casualties of the weather. Precinct 2 workers were alerted of a tree down on County Road 2399 in Pickton at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday. Deputies requested dispatchers to notify TxDOT officials that a large tree had fallen and was blocking FM 269 south at County Road 2348 in Pine Forest at 11:23 p.m. Thursday.
Motorists are urged by The National Weather Service and the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management to remember the phrase: “turn around, don’t drown.” In other words, if there’s water covering a roadway, it’s generally safer and recommended for motorists to turn around and find an alternate route to avoid dangerous situations. Motorists are advised to be especially cautious near rivers, creeks, flat-lands and anywhere with rapidly rising water.
Floodwaters can rise rapidly, becoming far more dangerous very quickly as you drive forward. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling. Twelve inches of water will float many cars. Two feet of rushing water will carry off pickup trucks, SUVs and most other vehicles. Water across a road may hide a missing segment of roadbed or a missing bridge. Darkness makes it much more difficult to judge the situation. Floodwaters weaken roads. Drivers should proceed cautiously even after waters have receded. A road can sometimes collapse under the weight of a vehicle, according to the NWS and the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management.
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