By Brian Lada
Relief is on the way for portions of the Plains that are in the grips of the ongoing drought.
Rounds of rain and thunderstorms will track across the southern Plains this week, delivering much-needed rain to parts of northern Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and eastern New Mexico experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions.
One aspect of the projected rainfall that will help battle the drought is the long duration in which the rain will fall.
With rain and thunderstorms projected to track across a large area several days in a row, the ground will have more time to soak in the rainwater.
This is the exact opposite of when a heavy thunderstorm dumps a plethora of rain on a single location over the span of an hour or two. When this occurs, much of the rainwater runs off the hard, dry ground into nearby creeks and rivers instead of being absorbed into the earth.
Two to four inches of rain are forecast to fall over parts of the drought-stricken areas by the end of the week with some spots potentially picking up as much 6 inches.
In addition to the beneficial rainfall, the combination of precipitation and cloud cover will keep temperatures 5 to 15 degrees below normal.
This translates to highs in the 70s and 80s rather than the typical 80s and 90s.
While this week’s rain will help ease the drought conditions in the Plains, much more rain is required to end the drought.
AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said that many areas in the region have been experiencing ongoing drought conditions for years, contributing to the reduction in the amount of feed available for the animals, including corn, which is used to feed some cattle.
This has resulted in an increase in beef prices at supermarkets across the country to account for the extra money it costs to feed and maintain cattle in the drought conditions.
Many cities located in areas hardest hit by the drought are averaging below-normal precipitation so far this year.
This includes Dallas which has only received 11.40 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, accounting for only 52% of what the city typically receives by this point in the year.