Rains finally fall in parched West Texas

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Associated Press

Posted on May 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The most drought-ravaged part of Texas finally got much-needed rain.

Lubbock and Amarillo had more precipitation Thursday and Friday than their previous totals for the whole year, the National Weather Service said.

But the rain, forecast to keep falling in the Panhandle and South Plains through Monday, won't be enough to break the West Texas drought that is now in its fourth year.

Lubbock recorded 1.56 inches of precipitation Friday, NWS meteorologist Steve Cobb said. Through Thursday, the city had seen just 0.95 inches of precipitation this year. Amarillo has recorded nearly 1.50 inches of precipitation since the rain began Thursday, compared to just 0.21 inches since Jan. 1. The rain in Amarillo led to some localized flooding on Interstate 40 and low areas in the city, but no injuries were reported.

Areas east of Lubbock, in Crosby and Floyd counties, got 3.5 inches since midnight Thursday.

The Panhandle and South Plains regions of West Texas are in exceptional drought, the most severe stage on the U.S. Drought Monitor map. Tabatha Seymore, who collects rain tallies from around the region at the weather service's Amarillo office, said the Panhandle would need as much as 18 inches to get out of drought.

"We want it slowly," she said, so it can soak in.

Other parts of Texas aren't as dry as West Texas, but about 72 percent of the state is in some drought stage. The January-through-April period in the state was the fifth-driest on record, with just 45 percent of the normal 7.1 inches of rainfall, National Weather Service officials said this week. Those four months were just slightly wetter than the same time period in 2011, which ended up being the state's driest year ever.

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