Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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December 20, 2012

Cold & downright dirty

Wednesday front brought cooler weather, ugly West Texas dust

Athens — There’s a reason many of the cars in Henderson County looked as dusty as Lubbock in a windstorm when the sun came up Thursday.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Greg Murdoch said the combination of strong winds from West Texas and a line of thunderstorms that swept through Henderson County Wednesday night combined to attach an unusual amount of dirt to wet surfaces.

“It happens one or two times a year, but usually in March or April,” Murdoch said.

NWS received reports of wind up to 35 to 40 miles per hour in Henderson County. An Athens-based weather observer reported to the NWS that wind velocity peaked at 35 miles per hour between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday.

As for all of the dust, Murdoch explained it this way. A weather event in West Texas produced wind readings in the Lubbock area of 40, 50 and 60 miles per hour. The breezes kicked dust into the atmosphere and blew it into East Texas.

“You got some rain with the thunderstorms,” Murdoch said. “That got everything kind of wet. Then, once the front came through, the wind switched around to the west, bringing all that dusty air in.”

The Athens observer recorded .56 inches of rain in Athens from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday.

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office received a few reports of downed trees and power lines in the county Wednesday night and Thursday. The Athens Police Department and Athens Fire Department responded to a call concerning a tree in the roadway in the 800 block of Clifford Street, and a Jonathan Street resident reported hearing what sounded like a falling tree, followed by a loss of electrical power.

Unfortunately, the winds brought more problems than just a layer of dust. Oncor Electric reported about 15,000 power outages in North Texas during the storms. On Thursday, Henderson County had a reported 16 outages affecting 131 customers. According to Oncor, the estimated time of restoration was about 3 p.m. Friday. Athens had outages at six locations, with 74 customers affected.

The NWS doesn’t predict a brown Christmas, but it could be wet. After a cold Thursday night, a warming trend is expected through the weekend. Then another cold snap arrives late Monday or Tuesday. A chance of rain returns to the forecast Christmas Eve and stays through Christmas night.

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