Lack of rain not the only threat to water supplies

July in North Texas is always hot and dry, but this July has been noticeably hotter and drier than normal with at least one instance of record heat.  July was typified by lengthy stretches of hot, dry weather interrupted by westward moving sub-tropical rainstorms.    

As the month came to a close, our average daily high was running at 98 degrees which is over two degrees above normal.  Our hottest temperature was a record 107 July 21.  Our early morning lows, however, were just shy of 74 degrees which is about one degree cooler than normal.  

Rainfall was sparse at best.  Denton Municipal Airport recorded a trace on July 1, .05” on the 7th, trace amounts on the 9th and 10th and .09” on July 20th.  As of July 25, our total rainfall for the entire month of July was only .16 of an inch, which is far below our normal July rainfall quota of over 2 inches.  

Despite the lack of soaking rains, there were several outbreaks of storms that tracked through Denton County with brief heavy rains, small hail, gusty winds and threatening lightning.  Without a doubt, some Denton County residents enjoyed more generous rains than those officially recorded at the airport.  

One other notable factor in our weather has been the wind.  When the summertime high pressure heat-dome is parked directly over Texas, our winds die off.  But this month, the high pressure ridge dominating the country was centered mostly north or northeast of Texas, leaving a path of gusty south winds across much of the state.  Those winds have made our above normal temperatures more tolerable but they’ve also increased our fire danger as rapidly as lake levels have declined.  

Also troubling is the recent discovery of Zebra Mussels in Lake Ray Roberts.  The tiny mussels shut down Lake Texoma as a local water supply and now threaten to disable Ray Roberts in a similar way.  There’s no doubt that water supplies are going to be getting tighter in the months ahead.  

In the coming month, the slowly-developing El Nino in the Pacific is likely to continue the trend of hotter and drier-than-normal conditions in Texas and much of the Midwest.

Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820 AM/96.7 FM and Founder of

Brad Barton
Brad Barton is Chief Meteorologist of WBAP 820/570 KLIF/99.5 “The Wolf” and the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. Read his column on Denton County weather each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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