National Weather Service: Rain, severe weather likely this week

Ellis County leaders are preparing for rain and severe storms this week and throughout the next few months.

The National Weather Service of Fort Worth (NWS) is predicting rain and some severe storms to move through the southern plains this week, said NWS meteorologist Matt Stalley. The rain should be around until Sunday, he said, and Ellis County could see one to three inches of rain.

“The main window for severe storms is Tuesday afternoon and evening,” Stalley said. “If we see rain early in the morning, it will limit the potential for severe storms later in the day.”

The highest risk for flooding is also on Tuesday and Wednesday, with storms predicted to have the heaviest rainfall of the week, he said.

The long range forecast for the county as spring draws closer depends on a host of factors and how they interact, he said.

“Right now, the forecast is near to above normal precipitation for much of the plains,” Stalley said.

Normal precipitation for the area is 3 to 5 inches for the months of May, April and March, he said. Last year’s record 10 inches in May was far beyond what is considered normal, Stalley said.

Ellis County Emergency Management coordinator Stephanie Parker said residents should make sure they are prepared for severe weather.

“We do expect a pretty good severe weather season this year,” she said.

Flooding will be an issue this year, she said, especially in areas where crews are still working to patch up last year’s damage.

“Because of the flooding damage from last May, we expect more flooding this year until repairs can be made,” she said.

The Trinity River Authority and the Corp of Engineers are working to make repairs, she said, but roads that flooded before will most likely flood again this year. When flooding does occur, drivers should use caution, she said, and never drive around barricades.

“Never drive in water covering the roads. It puts them in danger and it puts our first responders in danger,” Parker said.

Residents need to be weather alert, and use multiple devices to stay aware, including signing up for free county and city emergency alert systems, she said.

“You can sign up for all of the notices and they will send you a text or you can choose to get a phone call or email, however you want to be alerted,” she said, adding the alert systems are only for emergencies and will not bombard users with random messages.

The county and cities also have outdoor warning sirens, but people should not rely solely on the sirens while they are indoors or for complete information, she said.

“Outdoor warning sirens are for people who are outside only. They are placed near mass gathering areas outside to warn people to so indoors and find out what is going on though other ways like radio, TV or social media,” Parker said.

The city of Waxahachie is currently updating and expanding it’s outdoor sirens, said Waxahachie city manager Paul Stevens. The city is adding two new siren sites as well as completing electrical work at five of the city’s 15 current sirens as well, he said.

The electrical work should ensure the sirens are more reliable in the future, he said.

When two tornadoes touched down in Ellis County in December, one of which caused severe damage across the northwestern portion of the county including some Waxahachie homes, the Waxahachie warning sirens didn’t go off because a power outage shut down the city’s computer system at the critical time, according to previous Daily Light articles.

“With the changes being made, there are more levels being covered that will make it more fool proof,” Stevens said. “We should be in much better shape that way.”

Installation of the new sites should begin next week and all of the sites should be up and running within a month, Stevens said. The only exception should be a site where the city may have to acquire a small piece of property from a developer which will take longer, he said. The new sites are on opposite sides of the city, in the Settlers Glen and Saddlebrook Estates developments, because the city has expanded and those locations needed better coverage, he said.

The city’s emergency management coordinator Marcus Brown will also be focusing on keeping the sirens up to date and maintaining them, Stevens said.

 

Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email bkurtz@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.