Associated Press LUBBOCK, Texas - South Plains cotton producer Brad Heffington almost couldn't contain his happiness as he looked at forecasts for rain over the next couple of days. The weather pattern expected to last through Tuesday is atypical for West Texas cotton growers this time of year. They often have too little rain, brisk, drying winds and blistering summer temperatures.
Up to 5 inches is possible in some areas of West Texas, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Conder said Sunday. Extended rains are forecast for Lubbock, the Rolling Plains to the east and in San Angelo, Midland and Odessa. Some areas are forecast to get as little as an inch, he said. Heffington, who farms about 6,000 acres in Littlefield about 40 miles northwest of Lubbock, said he hopes the forecast for prolonged rains proves accurate. He was in his fields Sunday replanting irrigated cotton acres destroyed in June storms by hail, wind and sand. He's also planting other crops, such as black-eyed peas. "I'm sure hoping we can get some rain," said the 46-year-old farmer, adding that the South Plains is in the midst of its driest three-year span going back to 1895. "I hope we're not disappointed." Rains could be heavy and flash flood watches are in place for areas near Midland and Odessa, where as many as 5 inches could fall, Conder said. Cooler temperatures will accompany the upper low, which has slowed over West Texas. The low moved southwest out of Ohio and Missouri where it was the past couple of days. The mercury in Lubbock reached the mid-90s Sunday but was expected to cool to the upper 70s Monday and Tuesday. There will be some breaks in the rain through Monday but stretches of heavy rain from slow-moving thunderstorms may return to the region Monday evening. The system is expected to leave the region Tuesday evening. Residents and motorists should be prepared for flooding along low-lying roads. Those involved with cotton on the South Plains, the world's largest contiguous growing patch, are welcoming the unusual weather pattern. One forecast has lingering chances of rain through Thursday, said Mary Jane Buerkle, spokeswoman for Plains Cotton Growers, which serves a 41-county region on the South Plains. "It's not every day that we get to see a forecast with rain in it for five days straight," she said.