The short-term forecast for this part of the state is anything but typical of the type of conditions West Texans usually experience during summer. Instead of hot and dry, the forecast is for hot and humid.
The outlook for the rest of this week features a high probability of rain, although it does diminish as the weekend approaches. Still, as residents of this area have seen in recent weeks, the storms are so isolated that one area of town can be swamped with 5 or more inches or rain while another area a couple of miles away is blessed with a more reasonable 2 inches.
Those were the differences in rainfall reports in west Brownwood and south Brownwood, respectively, on the morning of June 17. That pattern repeated itself Monday, when the downtown area of Brownwood was drenched with almost an inch of rain at the noon hour, while residential areas south of the business district caught nothing.
The point here is that under current conditions, heavy rains can develop and flood a particular area with little warning. Dangerous road conditions, including flash flooding, can threaten motorists and strand people and livestock. Familiar areas through which drivers pass ever day can quickly become death traps when even a few inches of rainfall runoff accumulate.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard, according to the National Weather Service. The main reason is that people underestimate the force and power of water. Six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock an adult off his feet. Two feet of water can float a motor vehicle.
More than half all flood related deaths come as the result of vehicles being swept downstream. Sadly, many of these fatalities could have been prevented.
“Turn Around, Don’t Drown” is a trademark campaign of the National Weather Service designed to warn people of such hazards.
Most residents know what areas traditionally flood during heavy rains. These areas should be avoided. Motorists should be overly-cautious about road conditions when water is covering them, and make the prudent choice to avoid those situations. This is especially important at night, when the darkness can hide dangerous conditions.
Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors, especially when the weather is pleasant. When when it turns threatening, it’s time for motorists to turn as well — turn around.