Temperatures expected to fall by early next week

It might be time to break out the sweaters and jackets as much cooler temperatures are expected to reach the area in the early part of next week.

A strong cold front is projected to push through the area over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. While temperatures should remain in the mid- to upper-70s for the weekend, it most likely will not reach the 60s by early next week. The predicted high for Monday is 55 degrees.

Moisture from the Pacific is bringing a chance for a wet weekend, with rain chances beginning Friday and including the possibility for some severe storms Saturday evening.

Drought forecast

This week, much of the state received rainfall as Hurricane Michael swept through the gulf and made landfall in Florida. Killeen has seen 1.64 inches of rain since Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

But was it enough to pull Texas out of the significant drought that has plagued the state over the past several months?

“It has been severely dented but not totally vanquished,” said George Bomar, state meteorologist with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, on Thursday.

Most of Bell County is listed in the moderate drought category as of Tuesday, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System at Drought.gov, which releases updated information weekly. The remainder of Bell County is in the “abnormally dry” category with just a sliver of northern Bell County still listed in severe drought.

Just three months ago, almost half of the state was listed in the moderate drought category. That percentage has fallen each week so that currently just over 11 percent of the state is classified as being in a moderate drought, according to the drought information system. Almost 70 percent of the state has no drought conditions at all.

Currently the only two regions of Texas dealing with significant drought are the High Plains and the Trans-Pecos River Basin, Bomar said.

Central Texas is faring better, with recent rains, although less than to the north and south.

“It’s been enough to put (Central Texas) in a less severe state than we were,” he said. Another 3-5 inches of rain would get the region “into the positive.”

The weekend combination of a significant cold front and Pacific moisture arising from a dying hurricane might be enough to do the trick, Bomar said.

“We should see significant rain in Central Texas until mid-week,” he said.

Drought in Central Texas, where the average rainfall is 35-40 inches a year, is less frequent and intense than what is experienced by West Texans, Bomar said.

“Periods of drought and wet spells tend to be cyclic in nature, but they vary in length and duration and can be more intense or less intense,” he said. “It’s difficult to predict with regularity but droughts (in Central Texas) tend to be short-lived because of that amount of rainfall spread out over enough months.”

Bomar said there is a good chance the remainder of fall and into winter will be wetter than normal.

“Hopefully we’ll see no vestige of drought in Texas by the end of the year.”

But that’s not the end of the story.

“Even when we’re out of drought, we’re not out of it indefinitely,” Bomar said. “There will be another one coming, we just don’t know when, so we have to plan for that inevitability.”

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