Area drought index climbs one level
High heat, low rain totals raise wildfire threats
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

June 3, 2005 - Yes, the rain on Wednesday was nice, and it did serve to temporarily cool down a wave of warmth that included last weekend’s record highs.

Unfortunately, according to meteorologists and Texas Forest Service predictions, the 0.63 inches of rain received this week was not nearly enough to compensate for especially dry and humid conditions going into the summer months.

In fact, things have gotten worse.

On the forest service’s Keetch Byram Drought Index Thursday, the 14-day outlook had advanced Hopkins County one additional level from Monday. The current KBDI map shows the soil to be devoid of moisture 4 to 5 inches down, which is at least one inch dryer than conditions reported on Monday. In the next two weeks, the index indicates that the drought will likely be 5 to 6 inches deep.

Why are things so hot and dry already? It’s a simple formula: Just couple higher than average temperatures — including Saturday and Sunday’s record setting highs of 98 degrees — with the fact that there has been about four inches less rain this month than the normal average of 5.21, and at least 6.5 inches less rain this year.

Saturday eclipsed the high temperature of 92 degrees set on May 21, 1996, while Sunday’s high was five degrees more than the previous record of 93 in 1987.

Generally, Sulphur Springs averages 5.21 inches of rain each year. As of today, the city has received only 0.63 inches of rain during May, with only five days left in the month. For the year, there has only been 13.34 inches of rain. That’s still which is still ahead of the 12.76 inches which fell from January through May of 2004, but well behind the normal average of 19.76 inches of through the first five months of the year.

County residents, agriculturists and others will need to exhibit even more caution when going about the usual business outdoors as a safeguard against the ever increasing threat of grass and wild land fires from unintentional causes, especially where outdoor fire, sparks or equipment are concerned. Also, those out in the heat should keep adequate water sources on hand to prevent dehydration and extinguish any unwanted or unaticipated fires.

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