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Storm whips through area, downing power lines, putting dent in drought

May 12, 2011 at 12:12 a.m.

Strong thunderstorms move into  Calhoun County near Port Lavaca on Thursday afternoon, as the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch. The storm front extended from Texas to Iowa, bringing much needed rain to the Crossroads region.

After all the long dry months, a thunderstorm roared through the Crossroads on Thursday afternoon.

Jeb Lacey, emergency management coordinator for Victoria County, welcomed the rain.

"As long as the rain doesn't come all in the same instant, I don't think we'll be asking it to stop any time soon," Lacey said.

There were no reports of any major accidents or significant damage from the storm, according to sheriffs and emergency management coordinators in the area.

A Freightliner hydroplaned just west of Bloomington on state Highway 185 about 2:30 p.m, driving off the right side of the highway and completely through a fence. The driver was Cristian Portillo, 37, of Houston. No citations were issued and no injuries were reported, said Trooper Dave MacAulay.

Fayette County Emergency Management Coordinator Janet Carrigan said they received reports of circular cloud motion during the storm.

A twister reported in Fayette County on Thursday morning touched down in the southwestern part of Lee County, damaging property, Carrigan said. Winds ranging from 30 mph to 60 mph were reported in some parts of the county, knocking out power, and there was a report of minor flooding in the area.

Port Lavaca also saw some damage from the storm, with reports of sheering winds and heavy rain moving through the area.

The Port Lavaca Fire Department responded to calls on eight downed power lines in the area, Boyd Staloch, a captain with the Port Lavaca Fire Department, said.

Power was restored within 30 minutes, Staloch said.

Lavaca County Emergency Management Coordinator James Myrick said the county got some rain and saw some high winds but no damage was reported.

Gena Jiral, the deputy city clerk of Yoakum, said about 80 percent of the city's residents lost power because of the storm.

After the long period without rain, transformers across the city blew out, a reaction to the moisture colliding with the build up of dust, Jiral said. Power was restored to most residents by the afternoon.

"There were some high winds, but that didn't last for a long period of time. It just got really dark," Jiral said.

Like half of of the state, South Texas has been suffering through a drought, without any significant rainfall since September.

The La Nina effect, caused by a change in the temperatures across the Pacific Ocean, changed the atmospheric patterns, resulting in a drought in South Texas, said National Weather Service meteorologist Christina Barron.

By this point in the year, Victoria averages 11.33 inches of rainfall, but this year only 4.62 inches have fallen.

Thursday's storm dropped .92 inches of rain on Victoria, said Barron.

Lacey reported between 1 inch and 1.5 inches of rain from the storm.

While it won't end the drought, Barron said, the rain will still help.

Myrick agreed. Myrick doesn't think Thursday's storm would make a huge dent in the drought, but any rain was welcome at this point, he said.

"It's going to help the grass grow, I know that. It isn't going to help fill up the tanks, but it'll sure help the grass out," Myrick said.

Lacey was glad Victoria got the rain and missed the high winds and other bad parts of the storm.

"We certainly need to bring the water table back up, and not only do our residents need the rain, we have an economy that depends on it so it's important that the levels come back up," Lacey said.



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