Rain, an almost forgotten occurrence
By Nathan French
Rain is defined as the condensation of atmospheric water vapor into drops heavy enough to fall, making it to the surface of the earth. I felt that I needed to brush up on the definition. In recent times, we have not gotten to hear its soothing pitter-patter on the roof, smell its clean refreshing scent, or see the wonders it can do to our dry mother earth in our locale. However, most recently our plagued abstinence of rain has been broken.
Records report that the Dalhart municipality has received 5.17 inches of precipitation this month to date. Dalhart received 0.17 inches Saturday, 2.50 inches Sunday, 0.20 inches Tuesday, and most recently, on Wednesday 0.60 inches of precipitation. This week, according to local forecasts, holds promise for even more rain.
In climate studies, our average warmest month of the year is July, with the local recorded high being 107 degrees Fahrenheit in 1990. Our average coolest month of the year is January, with the lowest recorded temperature being -21 degrees Fahrenheit in 1959. The studies also show our greatest precipitation on average does occur in the month of July.
However, Dalhart’s precipitation average for the month of July is 3.11 inches, which we have to date surpassed by 2.06 inches of precipitation. Local agribusiness owner David Lowe stated, “The rain has a direct affect on our customers, the farmers, and therefore indirectly affects our business. The weather can have a drastic effect on our operations; for example the bumper crop of two years ago changed the way we handled grain. We, like other elevators, had to resort to storing grain on the ground, which raised operating expenses and required more labor, cutting into profits.”
The rain has greatly improved the outlook of this season’s crops and grazing range for our local area. Unfortunately, in recent times we have been suffering through what seemed as an unending drought. Meteorological drought is brought about when there is a prolonged period with less than average precipitation. Meteorological drought that does not break usually proceeds to the other kinds of drought. The impact of a drought on our local area is devastating. Not only are there the high temperatures and lack of precipitation, but our agricultural, economic, and sociopolitical systems are greatly impacted, because of our strong reliance on the agricultural business sect.
One of the reasons that a drought can seem to last forever is that drought areas tend to be warmer than normal. The warmer temperatures actually prolong a drought. Several reasons exist for warmer temperatures during a drought. One is that the lack of rain-producing clouds allows more sunshine than normal. The other is that the dry ground and parched vegetation result in little evaporation, allowing most of the sun’s energy to be used in warming the air. In turn, the increased temperatures result in lower relative humidity, making it even less likely to rain. Cooler weather can break a drought, which is evident due to our recent cooler days and greater precipitation.
With the recent rain, maybe drought will be the forgotten word that we will need to look up a definition to remember what it means. How nice it will be for rain to be part of our normal vocabulary and drought to be forgotten language; I can hear the pitter-patter now and smell the refreshing scent. Rain, how nice it is.