There’s no denying it: it’s hot here in East Texas.
While 2019 started off with plenty of rain (and even some severe storms), things have dried up during the summer months. Very little rain has fallen in August and September and temperatures have regularly soared to 100 degrees as locals struggle to stay cool.
“They’re definitely above normal (temperatures) for this time of year,” said Jason Hansford, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Shreveport, which monitors weather conditions in East Texas.
“Typically, the average temperatures for this time of year, moving into the middle part of September, generally range from 87 to 89 degrees. We’re about 10 degrees higher than normal.”
Speaking on Monday, Hansford said there may be a bit of cool relief coming soon but the overall temperature outlook shows more hot days ahead.
“Very high temperatures will probably persist for at least another three more days and level off by mid- and late this week,” Hansford said, noting an upper-level disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will create the potential for scattered showers later this week, along with some additional cloud cover.
However, “temperatures should remain high for the rest of month,” he said.
Continual high temperatures and a near-total lack of rainfall have plunged East Texas into drought conditions.
“Yeah, you better believe it,” Hanson said, asked if local conditions constituted a drought.
“Areas of southern Gregg County including Kilgore, they’re in what we call severe drought right now. The southern area from the Gregg County and Smith County line over to Lakeport and northern Rusk County, there is severe drought. The rest of Gregg County is in a moderate drought.”
NWS monitors rainfall reports collected by the East Texas Regional Airport near Lakeport.
In the month of August, the airfield only recorded .03 inches of rain, practically no rainfall at all.
Hanson said this makes August 2019 the third driest August on record for the area. The only drier months were August 1923, when rain fell but not a measurable amount, and August 1928, when zero rainfall was recorded.
Things aren’t looking much better in the way of rain for September.
“So far, for September, the East Texas Regional Airport measured .05 inch of rain. That’s not even a tenth of an inch in the last month and a half. Hence the reason across far southern Gregg and northern Rusk Counties are in severe drought.”
Though East Texans may be accustomed to dry spells, this year presents a unique meteorological case.
“It’s what we call a ‘flash drought’. We had a period of January through June of above-normal rainfall. The drought began the last week of June and has persisted through September. We went from one extreme to another.”
Will the arrival of fall signal cooler temperatures anytime soon?
“Fall will eventually get here, it’s just going to take awhile,” Hanson said, noting NWS forecast weather models suggested above normal temperatures for the fall season, which spans from Sept. 23 through Dec. 21 this year.
“Eventually temperatures will have to level off over time, especially as we get cold front systems in the area. Over the long term, through September, October and November, there’s pretty good confidence we’re going see above-normal temps for the Ark-La-Tex.”
Hanson noted fall rains have the potential to provide some brief breaks in the heat.
“Let’s not forget the potential for rainfall through the fall months,” he said, but noted “We’re not expecting any significant improvements in drought at least for much of the fall months.”
With a chance of rain in the next few days, Hanson said the NWS drought monitor will be updated about 8 or 8:30 a.m. Thursday. This monitor compiles information between NWS offices and partner offices.
His advice for the next few days?
“The best chances for rain are late this week. Keep your fingers crossed.”