Drought continues to dominate weather news

Sonny Long

Jan. 4, 2013 at 7:05 p.m.

John Welder surveys the storm damage to his property off Lane Road in Seadrift. "It's just a freaky thing, you know. We're always worried about hurricanes, not a tornado."

John Welder surveys the storm damage to his property off Lane Road in Seadrift. "It's just a freaky thing, you know. We're always worried about hurricanes, not a tornado."   Todd Krainin for The Victoria Advocate

The ongoing drought continued to be the top weather story in the Crossroads in 2012.

Although the amount of rainfall Victoria received doubled over the previous year - 28.14 inches in 2012 compared to 13.08 inches in 2011 - the annual total is more than a foot less than the normal amount of 41.22 inches.

Area agriculture producers are dealing with the reality of another year of drought conditions.

"They are just living the anomaly," said Brian Yanta, Goliad County AgriLife extension agent. "Forecasters were not wrong in predicting a wet winter associated with El Nino. The last two months were just an anomaly."

Producers are debating whether to destock. Those who have made that decision are supplementing their beef cattle with mineral, protein and hay, said Yanta.

"Farmers have their land prepared and hope to capture what moisture may come this winter pre-plant."

DeWitt County Extension Agent Anthony Netardus is hearing similar concerns.

"I had one of my farmers call this morning, and he's really concerned about the lack of soil moisture as we head toward row crop planting in the next 60-75 days," said Netardus.

The farmer ended up with 29 inches of rainfall for the year, which sounds pretty good, but he has basically had no rain since September, Netardus said. "He said he has tanks that have gone dry that have never been dry, and the oats that he planted this fall have died.

"If we don't catch some significant winter moisture between January and March, it could be a very gloomy spring in the farming and ranching world."

Weather Incident

The most newsworthy weather-related incident in the Crossroads in 2012 happened in May when at least two tornadoes and straight-line winds of up to 90 mph wreaked havoc in the area.

The tornadoes, one in Refugio County and one in Matagorda County, were part of a record-setting 16 that struck in South Texas on May 10.

Straight-line winds of 90 mph were reported in Seadrift and 60 mph were reported in Victoria County. The weather in some areas also included heavy rain and hail.

Four men had to be rescued from Matagorda Bay by the U.S. Coast Guard because of the storm.

A mobile home park near Seadrift was damaged by the strong straight-line winds. Some barns were damaged in the Wood Hi community in Victoria County.

Hurricane Season

Texas and the Crossroads stayed hurricane-free in 2012 despite an active season in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Only Debby and Isaac traveled through the Gulf," said Susan Buchanan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Ernesto traveled slightly and briefly over water in Mexico as it left the Yucatan and hugged the coast before moving over central Mexico."

The season produced 19 named storms, of which 10 became hurricanes and one became a major hurricane (Category 3, 4 or 5).

The number of named storms is well above the average of 12. The number of hurricanes is also above the average of six, but the number of major hurricanes is below the average of three, according to the NOAA.

The number of named storms and hurricanes was higher than predicted in NOAA's preseason outlook of nine to 15, according to the NOAA.

An August update raised that prediction to 12 to 17 named storms, still less than the 19 that emerged.

An interesting aspect of the season was its early start, with two tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl, developing in May before the season officially began.

This is also the seventh consecutive year that no major hurricanes have hit the United States. Hurricane Sandy was a Category 1 when it hit.

The only major hurricane this season was Hurricane Michael, a Category 3 storm that stayed over the open Atlantic, according to the NOAA.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.



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