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May saw characteristically normal weather conditions consistent with the climatology of the month and spring season for the State of Texas. Warm weather, severe weather, and heavy precipitation events were the dominating occurrences this month across the entire state. Residents in the Northeastern Texas county of Van Zandt, more specifically the town of Canton, were finally able to begin the cleanup and rebuilding process in the latter part of the first week of May after the deadly April tornadoes that passed through the town. Several tornadoes were reported in or around the area, with the most damaging being classified as an EF-3 on April 29th. These Northeastern storms took a total of seven lives, injured dozens, and destroyed many homes and businesses. Several survivors of these storms found refuge in peculiar locations such as cars alongside the interstate highway, car dealerships, and hallways of churches. Numerous assist groups and state and local administrative declarations were initiated to attempt to combat and protect residents of future storms such as the Van Zandt County tornadoes. The North Texas Council began to urge residents to develop storm plans for their families with the “KnoWhat2Do” agency and sign up for the “tornado shelter rebate program” which allocates funds for chosen families to receive grants for home shelter building. The Catholic Charities Diocese of Tyler, Texas also developed a long-term care recovery program for those affected by the deadly tornadoes and future storms. These along with other detrimental storms across the United States left the country with nearly one billion dollars in economic losses by the week of May 7.

Tornadic activity was not the only effect of mid and late spring Texas storms this month. Many regions were greatly affected by heavy rainfall events and flooding. Myrtle Springs, a community in Van Zandt County had just been battered by numerous tornadoes when a torrential downpour during a strong thunderstorm on May 2 lead to flash flooding in the area. A family trapped in a car during the flooding was in risk of being washed away when two good samaritans rescued them by fighting against the current of the floodwater and opening the vehicle’s doors. Southeastern Texas experienced a few flooding events as cold fronts with low pressure systems and some stagnant drylines produced heavy and continuous rain conditions during the middle part of the month. Some areas in Southeast Texas during this time observed one to three inches over the course of a day or two. One of the most significantly affected areas during this month due to rain was the town of Throckmorton. Nearly one dozen homes and one prominent business were extensively flooded, fifteen homes evacuated and almost all roads were closed as roughly nine inches of rain fell in the town during the morning hours and into the afternoon. Low pressure systems and a large amount of Gulf Coast moisture also contributed to strong thunderstorms that closed a vital US-Mexico commercial border in South Texas. What was initially thought to be a tornado though determined to be a wet downburst near Laredo caused extensive structural damage and power outages by flooding and near 80 mile per hour wind to the commercial crossing with a damage path almost 6 miles long. The vital border has remained closed and traffic diverted as repair crews are in the process of getting the border crossing back to full functionality.

Early May and Memorial Day weekend were days of very high temperatures in the Lone Star State. In many regions, the days leading into and the first few during May had temperatures at 90 degrees or higher with heat indices above 100 degrees. Memorial Day weekend also saw high temperatures reach the upper 90s with additional Gulf Coast moisture increasing the heat indices by approximately 5 to 15 degrees, solidifying the hottest four month start of the year on record.

The uncharacteristically warm temperatures at the start of the year and continuing into this month has lead to increased pest populations throughout the state, worrying some farmers, though others are found the issue menial. Some produce and cattle farmers are beginning to reap the benefits of the unusually warm conditions this year as it has allowed for improved grazing and replenishment of cattle during the late-winter and early spring season. During this month, corn has been selling for higher by farmers who saw an increased yield due to the year’s warm weather conditions and demand for ethanol production. North Texas farmers are conversely experiencing a more challenging time for their crops due to the varying nature of weather this month and earlier spring. The combination of severe flooding, blizzard conditions, and tornadoes impacted around 1,500 farms in Henderson and Van Zandt County alone, including the destruction of livestock fences, damage to machinery, and 900 heads of cattle being killed.

The month of May has also been generally favorable for drought conditions throughout the state. Beginning the month, the state was 91.38 percent drought free with only 1.44 percent in moderate drought. These drought conditions are expected to remain relatively consistent for the rest of the summer even though the temperatures have been record breakingly high. Climatologists are anticipating an El Nino pattern to form in the Pacific this fall, leading to wet conditions and possibly maintaining or improving the current drought conditions into those months.
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