COLUMNS

Daring to hope for a rainy summer

Gene Deason-former editor of the Brownwood Bulletin

After slipping on wet concrete and breaking my arm in a fall last year while moving hoses around the front yard, I vowed I would let the lawn die before ever watering again.

Alas, I said something rash.

Monday was the first time in several weeks that I deemed it prudent to take advantage of the one day each week when we are permitted to run lawn sprinklers. Timely rains this spring have meant most lawns in the Brownwood-Early area have been doused naturally, even if Lake Brownwood has not benefited as much as we would like. Still, the lake is holding its own as prayers for the big gully-washer on the watershed continue to be lifted toward Heaven.

While we haven’t had all the rain we wanted this spring, showers have been more plentiful. As we close out one season and officially welcome summer ? that happens at 5:51 a.m. Saturday, according to my almanac ? we can only hope that weather patterns continue to improve in this part of the world. The coffee shop experts I’ve consulted assure me that El Niño is poised to help make that happen in the latter half of 2014.

If all that develops, it would be a welcome relief from what we’ve been experiencing. I take heart in the realization that things really can turn around quickly. That’s true in life, but it’s especially true when it comes to Texas weather.

I note that during June 2007, Brownwood received almost 11 inches of rain ? 10.83 inches, to be exact. It was the second wettest June here since 1888 when records started being kept. According to stories in the Bulletin, several areas of the county measured much more than 11 inches that month.

Ah, the good old days.

According to National Weather Service records, the wettest June on record here was in 1959, with 12.90 inches of rain. The third wettest June was in 1961, with 9.63 inches.

The wettest month in Brownwood was in April 1990, when 14.66 inches of rain was recorded. Longtime residents will recall that most of that fell in one day, and however you choose to measure it, that is too much of a good thing. It caused substantial flooding and a national emergency declaration.

I remember it well.

Sudden, damaging rains are nothing unusual in this area. Storms that flooded the downtown Brownwood area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries prompted the construction of Lake Brownwood as a way to hold back those flood waters. Residents of even longer standing often point out that some had predicted that it would take several years for Lake Brownwood to fill after the dam was completed, but one storm in July 1932 did the job almost overnight.

I don’t remember that.

The water level at Lake Brownwood stood at 1,413.72 feet above spillway on Wednesday this week, which is approximately 11 feet under the 1,425 spillway mark. Now, consider that at the end of June 2007, the lake level was 3.8 inches above spillway.

Fortunately, Lake Brownwood remains viable as a recreational destination even after several years of drought. With a bit of caution, which is prudent any time, boaters and water-skiers can continue to enjoy all the summer activities generations of Texans have experienced there. C’mon out, the water’s fine.

Meanwhile, ongoing conservation efforts by water users have contributed significantly to the cause. Stage 3 restrictions, enacted almost three years ago, continue in effect. The City of Brownwood and the Brown County Water Improvement District No. 1 have been exploring a variety of ways to extend or supplement the lake’s supply.

If you live long enough, you realize that things run in cycles. It can be the length of women’s dresses, the width of men’s ties, the color of kitchen appliances, or the type of weather you get. The one unknown factor regarding such cycles, however, is the timing.

I think everyone in this area is anxiously waiting for the weather pendulum to swing once again. It will happen, sometime. The question is, when?

Gene Deason is a former editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears in the Bulletin on Fridays. Contact him by email at fridaycolumn@aol.com.