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Meteorologist: Drought could intensify over summer

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Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013 8:15 am

HARLINGEN — The Rio Grande Valley’s rainy season ended with some disappointing news for Harlingen and surrounding areas.

Although April showers brought some healthy rainfall, the spring months still fell below average.

The outlook for summer, which officially begins Friday, doesn’t offer much hope for brighter news.

Drought conditions in Cameron and Willacy counties are worse now than they were this time last year, the National Weather Service office in Brownsville reports. And the forecast calls for “a good chance” that conditions could get even worse by the end of summer, NWS meteorologist Alfredo Vega said.

“Drought conditions are expected to continue through the rest of the summer and the outlook says it could intensify,” Vega said.

“It looks like it’s going to be a hot, dry summer.”

Is this summer going to be worse than last summer?

“Pretty much,” Vega said.

When last summer began, Cameron and Willacy counties were under “moderate” drought conditions. But the lower Valley is already starting out the summer of 2013 under “extreme” drought, one level below the worst category, which is misleadingly labeled “exceptional.”

The problem is that there just isn’t much rain in the forecast.

“Of course, the concerns are that the levels at the reservoirs are extremely down, that is another item to the drought. That, plus the dry soils,” Vega said.

April showers were promising. Harlingen received 2.51 inches, or 0.84 inches above normal, the NWS said.

But compared to last year, this spring’s rains didn’t measure up.

The rain total in Harlingen for March, April and May of 2012 was 6.04 inches. That compares to 4.43 inches for the same months this year, the NWS reported.

“The recent rains have helped replenish some soil moisture. But it’s still, looking back the last several months, rainfall has been way below normal,” Vega said.

“The only opportunity would be some type of tropical system move in and give us some rain.”

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