HARLINGEN — A long-overdue rainfall of just over a half-inch Saturday in the city will not be enough to blunt the march of a Rio Grande Valley drought which is becoming more of a concern weekly.
Official readings show Harlingen received 0.7 inches of rain Saturday at Valley International Airport, although other areas of the city appear to have received less. At Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport, only a trace of precipitation was recorded and at McAllen International Airport, 0.11 inches of rain fell.
Overnight Friday, however, McAllen set a daily record for the date with 0.39 inches recorded at the airport. The old record was 0.13 inches set last year.
Elsewhere in the region, there were pockets of between an inch and two inches on parched ranchlands in Hidalgo and Starr County.
This brief taste of precipitation is not going to continue, with high pressure moving into the Valley beginning today that will choke off any chance of more rain this week.
In fact, an unseasonable mini-heat wave will settle over the region, peaking into possibly triple-digit temperatures in Hidalgo County between Wednesday and Friday. With that heat will come significantly lower humidity which will increase the threat of wildfires.
“It’s pretty much over,” meteorologist Brian Miller with the National Weather Service in Brownsville said Sunday. “We’re not looking for much at all the next few days.”
Over the past three months, most of the rainfall in South Texas has fallen on the northeastern part of the region and the coastal areas around Corpus Christi and to the north. These areas have received anywhere between 25 and 100 percent of normal precipitation so far this year.
But for the rest of the region, including the Valley, precipitation levels are only 10 to 50 percent of normal for 2020.
The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report confirms these very dry conditions.
Cameron, Willacy and the eastern half of Hidalgo County are locked into severe drought conditions, while the western half of Hidalgo is in extreme drought.
All of Starr County is in extreme drought, and to the north, about four-fifths of Zapata County is listed as being in exceptional drought, the highest drought category. It is the driest county in the state.
All of this is affecting both agricultural and ranching operations. The latter are becoming very short on grass with most ranchers hauling in feed for livestock and some reportedly selling off parts of their herds.
The long-range climate outlook for Deep South Texas isn’t looking good, either.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service forecast conditions of above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall will persist through spring and into June.