Heavy rains such as those Texas and other parts of the central area of the United States have experienced this year cause significant damage to property, but the losses extend far beyond the obvious. The economic damage being done to the tourism industry because of rains and flooding represents income that cannot be replaced.

The Associated Press reported this week that usually bustling parks throughout Texas were relatively empty over the weekend. Indeed, Lake Brownwood was one of many reservoirs that were closed to boat traffic due to high water.

Weeks of heavy rains have dampened recreational activities across Texas, slowing business at parks and tourist destinations and leaving campsites and hiking trails waterlogged. A year ago many officials were warning boaters about lakes that were too low and banning fireworks because the ground was too dry. Now some popular lakes might be closed for the Fourth because they’re too full, and fireworks shows are threatened by a continuing forecast of rain.

Lake Brownwood was reopened to boats Monday morning, offering hope to recreational businesses that depend on a busy — but relatively short — summer season to sustain their operations throughout the year.

Even if parks are open and lakes are safe to use, a high probability of rain can be enough to keep people home. Of if they’re not home, they may choose to do something else where being outside is not so imperative to having a good time.

In this area, soggy field conditions have already prompted a wholesale schedule change for district tournaments under way in Brown County, and the annual Fourth of July fireworks show held in Comanche has been postponed from Wednesday night to Saturday night.

Brown County’s Independence Day fireworks show had already been set for Saturday night, and the event has been the the subject of a major marketing push in several areas of the state. Rainy weather could wash all that away.

Fortunately, the weather forecast holds out the promise of the best — if you can call it that — weather of the week for Saturday and Sunday. The chance of rain is down to 30 percent then, calling for only a “chance of thunderstorms” instead of the 60 to 80 percent chance of “heavy rain” at midweek. For those who decide to proceed with their lake plans, it could be the ideal opportunity to take advantage of the odds that the weather will be cooperative this weekend, avoid the usual crowds and help these businesses salvage the summer, as well.

Texas has been described as a land of extremes. Snapshots of the drought-stricken Fourth of July in 2006 and the water-logged holiday of 2007 support that — all to the frustration of the recreation and tourist industries.

Brownwood Bulletin