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Residents celebrate rain; area needs much more

By chirst
July 7, 2013 at 2:07 a.m.

A car drives through a puddle at the intersection of Loma Vista Avenue and Ben Jordan Street in Victoria. Victoria County received roughly half an inch of rain Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms predicted for Monday.

Dianne Thornton sat in her garage for an hour Sunday afternoon just to watch the rain come down.

Her neighbors even walked over to sit under the overhang and enjoy the summer thunderstorm, too.

"We have big time needed the rain. It has been a while since we have seen a good rain. ... I love thunderstorms. I love it. The bigger one, the better. They are just so cool to watch," said Thornton, a resident of Quail Creek.

But even though her wireless rain gauge measured 2.32 inches of rain, the water-starved ground was hard again, soon soaking up the rain in just a couple hours.

And the rain was too little and too late to save her tomatoes, shriveled up by the heat and little rain.

The scattered thunderstorms Sunday were not enough to offset the drought, said Stephen Diebel, owner of the Diebel Cattle Company, and chairman of the Victoria Soil and Water Conservation District and chairman of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative.

Diebel measured only half an inch of rain at his ranch, which is about 2 miles north of Victoria.

"It was nice, but we sure need a lot more than that, though any little bit will help," Diebel said.

Most of the grass for ranching is grown between March and June, Diebel said. In a normal year, his ranch gets between 15 and 20 inches of rain in that time period. This year, from March to June, his ranch measured about 3 inches of rain.

"Typically, we can run a cow to every 10 or 12 acres. Now, it is a cow to every 20 to 25 acres. ... It has been tough to manage through. It will take a seasonal-type rain pattern to get out of it. Today is going to help on a short-term basis, but it doesn't help from a long-term standpoint," Diebel said.

Also affected by the drought, the city of Victoria is in the second stage of an emergency drought plan, according to a news release. The plan limits unnecessary water usage, like watering lawns or washing vehicles.

Violators of the rules can face a $500 fine, Public Works Director Lynn Short told the Advocate on July 2.

The city will be under the drought plan until the flow of the Guadalupe River remains above 300 cubic feet per second, or a flow above 134,600 gallons per minute, for 14 consecutive days, according to the release.

There is a 50 percent chance of rain for Victoria on Monday, said Douglas Vogelsang, a forecaster with the National Weather Service out of Corpus Christi. The Sunday and Monday storms are caused by a tropical wave moving across the Gulf of Mexico but are supposed to move west of the Crossroads by Monday night.

Diebel said he hopes the Crossroads will see more rain throughout the summer.

"There is no average, and there is no normal anymore. We can manage through it for a year or two, but when it starts to become a normal occurrence - we are looking on five out of six years we have been facing this drought - it has a lot of negative effects," Diebel said.



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