In the years I have lived in North Texas, I have seen several notable and extreme weather incidents.
As one would expect, most of these have been heat related. There were several summers where the temperature exceeded 100 degrees for 90 days or more. And, there were some summers where the heat either started very early (March or April) and/or was still with us late into the Fall. But, “Heat” is part of the Texas experience, and the body acclimates.
In 2000 an F2 tornado ripped through the Fort Worth downtown. And, while tornados in Texas are not uncommon (and having seen plenty while growing up in the Midwest), the fact that a major metropolitan area was damaged was VERY interesting. Tornados ‘don’t hit big cities’ had always been the prevailing wisdom. In FW in 2000, that wisdom was changed. It was also the first time I had seen the color white on a TV station dopplar radar. Sure, there were yellows and greens and reds and oranges on the radar map. But, when the purple turned to white, we knew bad things were happening.
I’ve seen ice storms cripple the city. I’ve seen hail the size of baseballs. I’ve felt 70 mph wind.
But, all of this is starting to pale in comparison to the wet weather we’ve experienced this spring.
9 months ago, D Magazine, had a cover story about the sad state of the lakes in the DFW area. The prediction was that several lakes were too far gone to ever recover. And, that unless people started making changes to their habits, the water situation here would become gravely serious. For those that have flown into DFW airport, the lakes are hard to miss. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked about “all the lakes here”. But, the lakes are misleading. There’s only one natural lake in the entire state, Caddo Lake. The rest are all man-made reservoirs built by the Army Corps of Engineers back in the 50s for water and power. From the air or on a map, they look impressive. But, the reality is that they are very shallow. And, they were built based on 1950s era population growth and water usage projections. And, if rain doesn’t fall in the winter/spring months, there’s no water in the reservoirs for the hot and dry summer months.
Usually by the start of May, the rains stop and the heat starts. This year, however, the heat didn’t start…and the rains didn’t stop. May 2007 is now in the record books as the wettest ever. And June 2007 is also a new record. These are records that go back more than a hundred years. These are records that defy expectation.
Two inches of rain in 15 minutes is an impressive and interesting scene.
News media are starting to call Dallas the Seattle of the South. The lakes of the area are all now at “pool” or flood stage and have completely recovered. The rivers are cresting. All the plants are green.
And, despite a few isolated flooding incidents in neighborhoods built in low-lying and flood prone areas, the situation has not been severe. Sure, I have lost count of the number of times I have been out exercising and gotten caught in some rain. And, forget trying to cut the grass on a schedule. But, with record rainfall, the water has drained…or been absorbed…or routed very well.
These are definitely interesting times…