The East Texas deluge came at just the right time

Deep moisture interacted with an upper level disturbance and cold front to generate widespread, heavy rain earlier this week.
Deep moisture interacted with an upper level disturbance and cold front to generate widespread, heavy rain earlier this week.
Doppler radar estimated a narrow band of 6-7" of rain in western parts of Angelina and Nacogdoches county.
Doppler radar estimated a narrow band of 6-7" of rain in western parts of Angelina and Nacogdoches county.
Our weather watchers had plenty of water in their rain gauges, helping moisten up the dry soils.
Our weather watchers had plenty of water in their rain gauges, helping moisten up the dry soils.

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - The phrase "too much of a good thing" can go both ways when it came to our heavy rain and minor flooding event that took place on Monday night.

If you were inundated with some high water or encountered some flooded roadways, then your perception of the phrase becomes "too much of a good thing is not a good thing."  If, on the other hand, you did not deal with any of those issues, then you probably perceived this early week's event as "too much of a good thing is a good thing."

Let's face it, when a drought builds in and the ground soils start to dry out, we need rain, and often times, we'll take it anyway we can get it.  The problem is we do not want to get it all at once and go from a drought to a flood right away.

In looking back at the rain that finally ended this morning, it has certainly been a wet 48 hour period for the Piney Woods.

While there are some drawbacks to the 3-6" that fell in many neighborhoods, I feel that overall, the positives outweigh the negatives.

A Drought Buster

Certainly one heavy rain event cannot typically erase a drought, but it can come close in many instances.  With a rainfall deficit closing in on eight inches at the Angelina County Airport, located just south of Lufkin, the four plus inches of rain it received cut the deficit in half.

The key, however, to eliminating a drought completely is not only looking at the actual climate numbers, but when you receive rainfall and how frequently rain comes in to our area.

Often times, it is all about receiving timely rainfall that does our parched ground and soils the most good.  If we saw another similar event take place this weekend that we saw Monday night, then more areas would see flooding.

We obviously do not want to see that; instead, the best scenario in a dream world would be for it to rain about two days out of the week and for that rain to be a slow, steady rain.  I know, we cannot control the weather, but the reality is having liquid fall from the sky about twice a week would do more good than not receiving any rain for a long stretch of time and follow that up with several inches all at once.

Speaking of several inches, many East Texans have asked me what caused the rain to be so heavy and so widespread?  So here's my best answer to the setup that came together to do just that.

The Setup

The setup for our heavy rain event had several features that came together at just the right time.

First off, we had plenty of warm and humid air in place as a south wind continued to feed in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.  Anytime you have high rainfall rates, you have to have plenty of deep moisture to work with.  Not only did we have plenty of moisture at the surface, we also had a saturated airmass all the way up to about 10,000 feet in the atmosphere.  When you have a saturated column of air, you will get efficient rain producing showers and storms.

The best example I can give for this deep moisture is a washcloth.  Imagine ringing out a washcloth that is very damp or dry.  Obviously, you will not get much water to come out, even if you try really hard to ring it out as much as possible.  On the other hand, if you try to ring out a washcloth that is completely saturated, you will get plenty of water to rain out.  That's exactly what happened on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

The other thing we had in play was an upper level low pressure system move across North Texas.  With most of the eastern half of the state in the right region, we had a perfect setup for these disturbances to track overhead and lift the moisture to generate the rain showers and thunderstorms.

And finally, to cap it off, we were able to really enhance the rainfall with a surface cold front that pushed through during this same time-frame.

Impressive Rainfall Totals

I attached two separate images of rainfall for Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and Deep East Texas.  One of them is from Doppler radar estimated rainfall.  Because it is estimated, those 6-7" values are not exact, but it does pin-point the bulls eyes on the map of where the heaviest rain fell.

Below that, is a look at what our weather watchers received in their rain gauges. With 2-6" of rain that fell in a 24 hour period, we have already matched our average monthly rainfall for the month of May in just one day.  That is pretty remarkable.

Considering summer is in the not-so-distant future, this heavy rain event could not have come at a better time.

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