BETSY BLANEY,Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texans are about to get their first dose of scorching triple-digit heat this year.
National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said Monday that a large ridge of high pressure will build over Texas this week, bringing temperatures close to 100 degrees. Heat indexes in some areas could climb to 105.
The only part of the state that might avoid the sweltering heat is South Texas, he said.
The heat should abate over most of the state by Friday.
It isn’t that unusual to have 100-degree heat in June. June 30 is the average date in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when the mercury climbs to triple digits. Generally, temperatures are forecast to be 8 to 10 degrees above normal.
The week won’t bring “end-of-the-world hot,” Murphy said, but to those living in areas that are more humid, like North Central Texas and Houston, the air will feel much warmer.
Unofficial numbers show that rainfall statewide so far for the year will be about an inch below normal, while temperatures ran about normal. The situation could become problematic for farmers and ranchers if the heat lingers into next week.
“It diminishes the soil moisture . . . diminishes the positive of impacts of some of these recent rainfall effects,” Murphy said.
Through August, people living northwest of a line from Wichita Falls to San Angelo to Midland will see below normal precipitation, while the rest of the state has equal chances of below, normal and above normal rainfall.
Official tallies will be released by the weather service in coming days, but officials estimated the state got an average of a much as 3.5 inches of rain n May, slightly above the 3.29-inch normal.
“That’s good news because May’s one of our wetter months,” Murphy said. “It’s not enough to get you out of drought but (it’s) enough to not go deeper into drought.”
The statewide average for January through May will probably be close to normal for the span — about 11 inches.
The weather pattern that scorched the state two years ago remains neutral and forecasters don’t yet know which way it will tilt. El Nino is characterized by unusually warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, while La Nina comes from unusually cool temperatures there. The two affect Texas and areas north differently, with El Nino usually bringing rain to Texas and dryer conditions to the North, and La Nina doing the opposite.
Not all of the state got rain last month, though. The statewide average got a bump from San Antonio, which likely will end up having its second-wettest May on record with 13.2 inches. Isolated parts of the state saw some heavy rainfall but west of a line from Wichita Falls to Midland the drought isn’t letting up.
Agriculturally, the disparity in rainfall is apparent. Corn fields in North Central Texas look good, while South Texas’ dryness led to losses in grain sorghum and cotton, said Texas AgriLife Extension Service drought specialist Travis Miller said.
On the South Plains of West Texas, the world’s largest contiguous cotton-growing patch, the first good rains in weeks came with a downside. Hail took out cotton plants that were just emerging.
The U.S. Drought Monitor map released late last week shows Texas with twice as much land in the worst drought stage than three months ago. Ninety-five percent of the state is in some stage of drought.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.