It would have been hard to script a better scenario for a mid-July day in the midst of a drought.
Cool temperatures and storms that brought several inches of rain, yet no damaging winds or major flooding issues, were a welcome sight Thursday.
The northern part of Wise County, particularly Alvord, received the most rainfall. Weather-watcher reports ranged from 7 to 9.97 inches in the area.
Rising water washed out a culvert on County Road 2585 a few miles east of Alvord. The road was closed, and repair work is expected to begin next week.
During the heaviest rainfall in the early morning hours Thursday, some roadways experienced flash flooding. Water rose over U.S. 81/287 near the roadside park north of Decatur at one point, leaving at least one vehicle stranded. No injuries were reported.
Small lakes and stock tanks with water levels well below normal thanks to the ongoing drought began to fill back up, and creeks that had been dry or reduced to a small trickle or puddles roared back to life.
A flood watch was issued Thursday afternoon for Big Sandy Creek, but a predicted second round of storms stayed to the south, meaning the creek stayed just below flood levels. The creek crested at 11.66 feet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Minor flooding begins at 12 feet.
At the beginning of the day, the creek had stood at around 1 foot.
The rain brought Lake Bridgeport up only about three inches – meaning the lake remains more than 22 feet low. But it did increase the total acre-feet of water in the lake from 148,600 to 150,700. That 2,100-foot increase translates into around 684 million gallons of water.
To put that in perspective, the City of Decatur drew just over 165 million gallons of water from the lake from January through May of this year.
Perhaps just as valuable was the cloudy skies and cool temperatures, slowing evaporation which can drop the lake level several inches a day on dry, 100-degree-plus days.
The 4.58 inches of rain recorded in Decatur on Thursday alone already makes the entire month of July the wettest since 2010, when Decatur received 5.59 inches for the month. It could also give the city a shot at the rainfall record for July – currently 6.78 inches set in 1996.
It will also ensure a second straight month of above-average rainfall. The average rainfall for July is 2.37 inches. Last month’s 5.01 inches exceeded the average June rainfall amount of 4.26 inches.
You have to go back nearly four years, to Sept. 7, 2010, to find the last time Decatur received as much rain in a single day. The heavy rainfall in 2010 was the result of Tropical Storm Hermine.
That was also the last year Wise County had above-normal annual rainfall, and the last time area lakes were full.
Other rainfall totals from around Wise County Thursday included 4.3 inches in Greenwood, 2 in Bridgeport, 1.8 in Paradise, 1.7 in Cottondale and 1.59 in Rhome.
The cold front that accompanied the rain provided unseasonably cool temperatures Friday as temperatures remained in the 60s into mid-afternoon under cloudy skies. High temperatures were expected to remain in the 80s on Saturday before climbing back into the mid-and upper-90s next week.