Athens Review, Athens, Texas

September 24, 2013

It’s good news and bad news

Rainfall up for year, but lake still down

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The rain that drenched Henderson County on Friday and part of Saturday were a welcome relief for the dry countryside, but didn’t fix all of the problems left by the lingering drought.

On the positive side, the remote automated weather station at Athens Municipal Airport reported 3.84 inches of rain on Friday, the largest daily rainfall amount of the year.  September now ranks second to January, with more than five inches of precipitation, as the month producing the most rainfall in 2013. 

Henderson County currently has a burn ban in place and included consideration of lifting the ban on the Tuesday Commissioners Court agenda. By Monday, several East Texas counties had lifted burn bans because of the rain, including Anderson and Cherokee Counties.

The rain quickly brought the Henderson County reading on the Keetch-Byrum Drought Index from above 700 on the 800-point scale to 329. The Henderson County Commissioners Court considers the KBDI scale when setting a burn ban and uses anything above 575 as the threshold for enacting a ban.

The Texas Forest Service forecasts that in two weeks, Henderson County will have a reading in the 400s, well below the burn ban threshold.

On the negative side, the rain made little change in the level of area lakes. Cedar Creek Lake had a depth of 315.36 on Sept. 16, but rose to 315.73 on Monday. CCL is still 6.27 feet below its normal elevation. Lake Athens improved from 435.34 a week ago to 435.67 on Monday. The lake remains 4.33 feet below normal.

Lake Palestine is closer to normal with a reading on Monday of 343.44 and is just 1.56 feet below normal elevation. Farther west, Richland Chambers Reservoir  remains 9.74 feet below its normal elevation.