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Three-day rain makes July noteworthy

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Between Sunday and Tuesday, Decatur and Wise County received four times more rainfall in three days than they did in the entire months of July 2011 and 2012 combined.

Don Niblett’s rain gauge in Decatur recorded 2.62 inches over the three-day period. His records show no rain at all in July 2011 and only 0.59 inches in July of 2012.

Rain Man

RAINMAN – For almost 40 years Don Niblett of Decatur has kept track of daily rainfall totals. He also records temperatures and reports them to a local Metroplex news station. The past two years have been the driest on record. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

With the recent deluge, is Wise County on the way to recovery from the three-year drought?

“Oh, no, no, no,” Niblett said. “We’ve got a long way to go. When the lake fills up, we’ll be getting close.”

Lake Bridgeport remains 18.65 feet below conservation level, the lowest by far in the area. And the recent rain raised the level less than one-tenth of an inch.

That improves the lake from 49 percent full to 49.1 percent full – but it does expand the lake’s surface area by 19 acres, from 8,117 acres to 8,136 acres. (source: waterdatafortexas.org)

And at least the cloudy skies and lower temperatures slowed evaporation from area lakes.

Niblett has been recording rainfall since 1975. And in 1996 he started keeping track of daily temperatures as well.

“Fox 4 was looking for a weather tracker for Decatur,” he said. “I talked to my wife (Earlene) about it, and we thought our community needed to be represented.”

A few days later he talked to the chief meteorologist at the station. And he’s been collecting and reporting Decatur and Wise County weather statistics ever since.

“I call it in every day,” Niblett said. “If we have a lot of rain I’ll call it in twice a day, but it’s been a while since I’ve had to do that.”

According to his numbers, the last three years have had the lowest rainfall he’s ever seen. Only the years of 1978, 1979 and 1980 are close.

“It’s cyclical,” he said. “We’ve gone through really dry years in the past, and then we’ve recovered.”

The wettest July he’s ever recorded was 6.78 inches in 1996. The next-wettest years were 5.5 inches in 2002 and 5.41 inches in 2004. It will take several of those record-breakers to break the current drought conditions settled over North Texas.

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