Burn bans that typically dominate East Texas in summer are all washed up so far this year in Gregg and surrounding counties.
With the National Weather Service showing the Longview area’s rain total at a fraction below 10 inches above the yearly average as of Thursday, burn bans don’t appear likely to make a return soon.
The weather service reported 35.94 inches of rain recorded at East Texas Regional Airport as of Thursday. That’s 9.99 inches above the 25.95 inches considered normal by this time of year.
Texas A&M University’s Texas Weather Connection index showed all of East Texas in the zero to 300 average range on the Keetch-Bryam Drought Index. A range of 400 is considered a mild drought on the scale, while the maximum of 800 is an extreme drought.
Officials in Gregg, Upshur, Harrison and Rusk counties all said Thursday they have not enacted a burn ban in 2019. Panola County Judge LeeAnn Jones did not return messages left throughout Thursday asking about burn bans there, but the Texas Forest Service website shows no burn ban in Panola County right now.
“It’s been too wet,” Mandy Duke, assistant to the Rusk County Commissioners Court, succinctly put it.
Her counterpart in Upshur County, Kristin Culberson, said when it rains, it pours.
“In fact, we’re more on the side of sliding off the hill,” she said. “I’m a farm girl. For years, we’ve held our breath through the Fourth of July, hoping the county doesn’t burn off because of fireworks. So, that didn’t even come into play this year.”
Harrison County Judge Chad Sims indicated he’ll take a wet summer over a series of burn bans any year.
“I’m not sure we’ve had two whole weeks without rain yet,” Sims said. “Our humidity is so high right now, and so there’s more moisture in the air. And here we’re in for another inch this weekend from that storm in the Gulf.”