Did enough rain fall to help break recent drought status?

Headline Goes Here

Needed Rain: How much rain is needed to reach near-normal rainfall amounts as of May 10.

HOUSTON - Houston broke a rain record at Bush Intercontinental Airport Tuesday. The weather station had received 3.18 inches of rain by mid-morning. The old record for May 13 was 2.74 inches set in 1966.

Meanwhile Hobby Airport's record of 3.60 inches still stands. They were at least in the ballpark of breaking a record with their 3.11 inches of rain.

Across the area, many weather stations reported 2 to 5 inches thanks to a strong cold front that pushed through Southeast Texas overnight into Tuesday morning.

However, receiving this much rain all at once may not be enough to break our recent drought status elevation.

"With this event, all the rain came within a few hours. This tends to produce a lot of runoff. It didn't have a lot of time to soak into the ground, so it's going to be sort of a quick but temporary relief," explained Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist and Texas A&M Regents Professor.

The U.S. Drought Monitor releases conditions every Thursday. Looking at the latest figures released May 8, a majority of Southeast Texas is under a moderate drought.

The rain we received is just what we needed to help alleviate some of the water pressures, but it wasn't enough.

To understand what we need to break out of our drought, you need to know our forecast area is divided into three regions. The first region has Brazos, Grimes, Waller, Montgomery and San Jacinto as their Southern border.

According to the Palmer Drought Severity Index, this Northern region needed 3 to 6 inches of rain as of May 10 to just get to where we should be for this time of year.

Looking at the rain fall totals, it appears communities received enough rain to end up on the higher end of this range.

For instance, the Montgomery County Airport in Conroe reported 5.41 inches of rain from 7 a.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday.

So if you were just judging our drought situation by last week's standards, you would think we are out of it.

Actually, our recent rainfall is just us playing catch up.

"If going forward we receive above normal rainfall for the last half of May and the first half of June, that will probably do the trick because now we have got the ground wet," said Nielsen-Gammon.

To see improvement in our drought status on the next drought report Thursday, we would need to receive our average rainfall amount on top of what has already arrived.

The other two regions -- which include counties from Brazos to Harris to Galveston on South -- need 6 to 9 inches of additional rain to reach near-normal rainfall amounts with the coast needing the most rain.

"After this event, [the coast] didn't get very much," said Nielsen-Gammon. "They have been fairly dry over the past few months."

Galveston has been so dry, the time period from December to April is the driest in recorded history. The five-month total rainfall was almost 11 inches below average.

In April, the average is 3.05 inches. Well, Galveston only received 0.10 of an inch. That is 2.95 inches below average.

Galveston only received a trace amount of rain from midnight to 6 a.m. Tuesday.

In the meantime, Houston is above normal if you are just looking at the this month's totals so far.

From late Monday night through Tuesday afternoon, Bush Airport totaled 3.46 inches. The month-to-date total is 3.84 inches. That is taking a big chunk of the 30-year average rainfall for May which is 5.09 inches.

The bad news is that we only have a slight chance of rain Wednesday and then a drying trend takes over the rest of the week into the weekend.

"It doesn't help when we get the main rainfall in one day and nothing the rest of the month," said Nielsen-Gammon.

Also, remember this week's rain will be used to satisfy our drought deficit amount.

Take into consideration that we are below average for the year. Since January 1, Houston has received 11.20 inches of rain. The to-date average is 15.43.

That means 2014 is so far more than 4 inches below average, that includes taking into consideration Tuesday's record rain.

Nielsen-Gammon said we need to get an additional 5 to 6 inches of rain, but not all at once.

To be more beneficial and to break our drought status, the rain needs to come in about 4 to 5 different storms over the next month.

"Additional rainfall like we normally have this time of year would help get the soil saturated and get additional runoff and help with stream flow," said Nielsen-Gammon.

Copyright 2014 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.