COLLEGE STATION — Tropical Storm Barry didn’t create major problems for Texans, but storm season is just getting underway, said the Texas State Climatologist.
Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, College Station, said southeastern parts of the state received up to 5 inches of rain, but Barry, for the most part, avoided Texas. However, he added, the annual hurricane season typically ramps up in July to mid-August.
“It’s early in the season still,” he said.
There are two types of storms/hurricanes —tropical, which originate farther southward in the Atlantic; and storms that originate further north such as in the Gulf of Mexico’s warmer waters, Nielsen-Gammon said. Storms like Barry are triggered by upper-level disturbances and convection that can occur when they move over warmer waters.
“June and early July typically kick off the hurricane season with these types of storms forming in the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “Later in the season, storms are more common and form in the Caribbean or farther south in the Atlantic.”
About 15% of U.S. landfalling hurricanes are early season hurricanes, Nielsen-Gammon said.
There were four hurricanes and seven other tropical storms in 2015, the last time there was an El Niño system and warmer tropical waters as there is this year, Nielsen-Gammon said. Tropical Storm Bill was the only storm to make landfall along the Gulf of Mexico that year. It delivered almost 14 inches of rain near Port Lavaca and flooding in parts of Texas and Oklahoma. Two people died.
Storm forecasts don’t predict anything forming in the near future, he said, and long-term outlooks for the tracks of specific tropical storms and hurricanes are impossible to predict.
Overall, the hurricane season is expected to near average. Meanwhile, the seasonal forecast indicates below-normal precipitation across the state for the next few weeks.
Nielsen-Gammon said most of the state west of Interstate 45 has been fairly dry for more than a month. Eastern parts of the state, including Houston and Dallas, received up to three times the normal rainfall.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Scattered rains delivered zero to 4.25 inches as the district settled into the normal summertime weather pattern of hot and dry. Crops recovered from early problems. Cotton was progressing well and under irrigation where available. Dry conditions allowed fieldwork and hay baling activities to get into full swing. Hayfields had produced around two to three cuttings of hay, bringing producers’ stocks back up. Pasture and rangeland conditions looked good but were slowly deteriorating with high temperatures and a lack of rainfall. Cattle looked good. Nearly all counties reported adequate moisture levels and good overall crop conditions.
Most of the district experienced hot, dry weather, while some areas received up to 3 inches of rain. Pastures and rangelands were in good to fair condition. Cotton fields were in good condition but were behind schedule overall. Producers reported issues with grasshoppers. There were also parasite problems in sheep and goats.
Hot, humid days with no rain were reported. Sorghum was coloring fast and was 80% harvested in the southern end of the district. Corn was drying down fast, and harvest was also underway in many areas with exceptional yields being reported. However, in other areas corn condition estimates were lowered due to a lack of rainfall. Cotton was progressing well with bolls opening. Soybeans needed rain. Rice was heading out. Good quality hay was being rolled up. Pastures and rangelands were in good condition but needed some rainfall. Livestock were in excellent condition.
A few areas received light rains. Hay production was in full swing across the district with conditions drying out. Cherokee County reported higher-than-normal volumes of hay being produced. Harrison County hay producers were at least four weeks behind due to weather. Pasture and rangeland conditions were good to excellent. Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels were adequate. Peas, melons and peaches were harvested. Gardens were progressing and producing well. Some areas were showing signs of moisture stress. Producers attributed the stress to plants not establishing deeper root systems due to high moisture levels throughout the season. Livestock were doing well. Wild pigs caused heavy damage to vegetable crops, pastures and hay meadows. Multiple counties reported Bermuda grass stem maggots, grasshoppers and armyworms.
Subsoil and topsoil moisture levels were good to adequate. Producers continued to run irrigation amid warmer temperatures. Rain was received in various locations in the county, but hot conditions continued to dry things out. Cotton was three weeks behind schedule. Most cotton fields were in the three-to-seven first position squares with blooms still two to three weeks away. Many fields showed signs they will bloom with nine nodes above the white flower. A storm negatively affected some cotton fields. There were reports of some farmers losing up to 1,500 acres to hail and winds in the western parts of the district. Sorghum and corn producers took losses as well. Complete damage estimates were not yet totaled. Peanuts looked good and were rapidly developing. Cattle, pastures and rangelands were in good condition.
Area producers had a productive week and worked around scattered showers that shut down fieldwork. Wheat harvest was close to complete. Corn production came along well with the 90-plus-degree temperatures, but most corn was still behind on growth with no fields close to tassel. Grain sorghum fields were also behind schedule. Cotton acres were struggling, and many producers wondered what to do with the crop since it was so late.