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Current Conditions:
Fair, 75 F

Wed - Mostly Sunny. High: 94 Low: 78
Thu - Mostly Sunny. High: 94 Low: 77
Fri - Thunderstorms. High: 89 Low: 71
Sat - Partly Cloudy. High: 85 Low: 66
Sun - Mostly Sunny. High: 88 Low: 71

Full Forecast at Yahoo! Weather

(provided by The Weather Channel)

ERCOT calls for electricity conservation; Texas breaks peak demand record again

20110803_OutletRecord power use expected again Wednesday

Conservation needed all week

AUSTIN -- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT), system operator for the state’s bulk transmission grid, again set a new electricity demand record with 67,929 megawatts (MW) Tuesday between 4 and 5 p.m. and is expecting to break the record again Wednesday.

“Due to the high temperatures and high electricity usage expected this week, we are continuing to request that consumers and businesses reduce their electricity use during peak electricity hours from 3 to 7 p.m. for the remainder of the week,” said Kent Saathoff, vice president of system planning and operations.

Read more: ERCOT calls for electricity conservation; Texas breaks peak demand record again


Operation Lone Star brings free medical care to Valley communities

20110726_Lonestar_0360PALMVIEW – Operation Lone Star (OLS) began its first week of activities with four locations in the Valley – Brownsville, San Juan, Rio Grande City and Palmview. Next week the program will offer services in Hebbronville and Laredo.

Nearly 400 parents, children and elderly walked through the doors of Palmview High School to receive free medical services on Monday, July 25, OLS’s first day of operations. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, the facility had already registered and seen 157 people.

Read more: Operation Lone Star brings free medical care to Valley communities


Tropical Storm Don: Not Such a 'Dandy'

Cyclone Fizzles into Drizzle, July 29th, 2011

The National Weather Service office in Brownsville has provided the following summary of the not so Tropical Storm Don that “threatened” the South Texas coast last Friday.


Tropical Storm Don failed to meet expectations compared with others before it (2010’s Hermine, for one), as a pronounced cluster of strong thunderstorms in and near the center faded into oblivion in a matter of hours, leaving nothing more than gentle, light rains and light to nearly calm winds on land. By the time the surface circulation made landfall in northeastern Kenedy County, precipitation had largely ended across the Lower Rio Grande Valley and skies had begun to clear toward the coast. After the rain shield fell apart, leftover boundaries became active as the back end of the mid level circulation moved across Tamaulipas and Nuevo Léon into early morning of July 30th; locally heavy downpours in isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms across the Rio Grande Plains and Brush Country of Zapata, Jim Hogg, and Starr County dropped close to an inch of rain in a short period of time between midnight and noon.

The only impacts on land were slippery roads and some ponding of water from South Padre Island to Brownsville and Harlingen during the Friday afternoon commute, along with a few cloud to ground lightning strikes. There were no known measured winds (sustained or gusts) reaching tropical storm force (39 mph). Coastal impacts were minimal; in fact, as the graying skies kept crowds from the beaches, surfers took full advantage of the clean and building surf, which rose high enough for rideable waves but without the tempest on the water that has accompanied other cyclones. The worst impacts were likely across the nearshore waters during the mid-afternoon, when hundreds of cloud to ground lightning strikes, blinding rains, and locally rough seas made for difficulty for any mariners caught out in the cluster.

So, What Killed Don?
The answer seems simple. Or is it? Some small cyclones moving through warm waters often intensify rapidly, turning a relatively routine event into a life-threatening windstorm (Charley, 2004). Others fail to intensify rapidly, and some lose their identity. Research into tropical cyclones is heavily invested in intensity prediction; much more study is needed to improve this critical aspect of forecasting. For Don, we observed three elements which may have led to Don’s struggle to survive, followed by the storm’s rapid demise:

  • Dry Atmospheric Air. Don, being moved along by decent east to east–southeast flow in the mid levels of the atmosphere, quickly found inhospitable dry air along it’s path heading to Texas. Dry atmospheric air increases the amount of evaporation, and cooling, in and near the storm environment. While such cooling is favorable for atmospheric instability, it is unfavorable for the "heat engines" that drive tropical cyclones. Such cooling may have led to increased icing in the vertical growth region, leading to impressive cloud to ground lightning production. Most tropical cyclones have much lower lightning strike frequencies than Don.
  • Wind Shear. Just enough wind shear from north winds more than 25,000 feet above the ground elongated Don’s core, with the heaviest weather well south of the center of the surface circulation. When wind shear is combined with dry air in the same regions, the slightly tilted core takes on the personality of a mesoscale convective complex, where thunderstorms cluster in a circular fashion.
  • Cool Nearshore Waters. A tropical cyclone struggling to intensify requires only a slight disruption to bring it down. Prior to Don’s arrival along the South Texas coast, surf zone water temperatures had dipped into the 70s to around 80°F, courtesy of a prolonged period of southeast flow which brought cooler undersea waters to the surface. Small thunderstorm clusters, which need warm, humid, unstable air to maintain their updrafts, can be destroyed by even a small area of stable air. Radar showed rapid decay of heavy rain, while satellite trends showed warming of the highest clouds. At the same time, hundreds of lightning strikes faded to dozens, then to only a few. All in less than three hours.
  • Did Time of Day Matter? What might have occurred had the thunderstorm cluster approached the coast at 4 AM rather than 4 PM? In the past, energy from tropical waves arriving during the pre dawn hours have set off torrential rains, which begin before daybreak and continue until noon or so near the coast. One reason for this may be the increased instability (warm humid conditions) over the Gulf compared with cooler land just prior to daybreak. Could Don have done likewise, maintained it’s core, and dumped between 2 and 4 inches of rain along with gusty winds, 12 hours earlier (or later)?

We are planning to be part of future research efforts to investigate reasons, known and unknown, for Don’s rapid death.

A table of precipitation, from highest to lowest, follows.

Table of Rainfall from Tropical Storm Don, July 29th through 7 AM July 30th 2011



Rainfall (in.)

2.6 ESE Harlingen




Jim Hogg


4.1 E Brownsville



0.7 E Rancho Viejo



Brownsville/Intl Arpt




Jim Hogg

0.61 (estimate)

5 SSE San Benito



4.4 NE Brownsville



Port Isabel Coop



0.1 SSE Brownsville



3.0 SE Rancho Viejo



4.9 NNW Brownsville



5 NW Brownsville



0.3 NE Los Fresnos



1.3 WNW Brownsville



Alice Intl Arpt

Jim Wells




0.39 (estimate)




Laguna Atascosa NWR



4.7 WSW Harlingen






0.5 WNW Falfurrias



8.9 SSW Falfurrias



2.2 SW Palm Valley



Harlingen/Valley Intl Arpt



Kingsville NAS






La Joya



Falcon Lake RAWS



Weslaco Coop


0.14 (estimate)

11 N La Joya



Port Mansfield



Mercedes 6 SSE



2.4 NE McAllen



1 NNE Alamo



1.9 ENE Mission






Weslaco/Mid Valley Arpt



Edinburg Coop



San Manuel Coop



McAllen/Miller Arpt



McAllen/Water Plant





Expressway Lane Closings Planned in Palmview

txdotThe Texas Department of Transportation will be performing a lane closure on US 83 in Palmview to make repairs the roadway Thursday, July 28 through Friday, Aug. 5. The closure should occur between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The limits of the westbound, one-lane closure will be from Bentsen Palm Dr. to Showers Rd. The Showers Rd. exit ramp will need to be closed. Westbound traffic will need to exit FM 492 to access Showers Rd.

Read more: Expressway Lane Closings Planned in Palmview


Texas Vineyards

20110729_Vineyard_LEG_5139Grape Harvest Brings Happy Days

Soon, Mission, Texas could be known not only for its citrus, but also for its grapes. Tucked away in the northern part of Mission are two thriving vineyards. Santa Anita Vineyard is operated by Ruth Casas and Jaber Estate Winery is operated by Jorge Jaber.

The vines at the charming, rustic Santa Anita Vineyard will soon be budding with black Spanish grapes. The vineyard, which is located on Bentsen Palm Drive at 6 1/2 Mile, is open to the public. Casas said the best time to visit is in April when the fruit is ripe. Pruning begins in February and harvest takes place in July.

Read more: Texas Vineyards


City, drainage district collaborate on major drainage project

2010_FLOODED_CountryEstates_Mission_SHEATSMISSION – In a meeting with concerned Mission residents last Thursday, July 21, Godfrey Garza, director of Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 (HCDD), outlined a plan by local officials to widen the Mission Lateral drainage ditch. The action is expected to reduce the threat of flooding of homes throughout a large area of Mission.

Under the proposed plan, drainage district workers would perform the work of widening the major drainage structure, which is located between FM 495 and Two Mile Rd., running parallel to FM 495. The City of Mission has committed to haul away the tons of dirt to be excavated at no cost to the district, a measure that will create major savings in the cost of the project. About one-third of the city will benefit from the Mission Lateral drainage improvements, Cerda said. Areas as far south as Business 83 and west to Los Ebanos Rd. drain into the lateral drainage system.

Read more: City, drainage district collaborate on major drainage project


La Joya bypass using partnerships for funding

US-83-La-Joya-Relief-Route-Location-Map-EDINBURG —Hidalgo County and transportation leaders here say they hope a proposed collaborative effort will get the $81 million La Joya bypass project funded and finally constructed after a decade of planning.

On Tuesday, officials with the Hidalgo County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) met with Hidalgo County leaders to discuss the partnership.

TxDOT Area Engineer Mario Jorge calls the La Joya relief route, a bypass through Peñitas to Sullivan City, a much-coveted project.

Read more: La Joya bypass using partnerships for funding


MPD searching for evidence, stolen items in Kimmons death

20110719_MPD_MFD_Diving_Murder-Investigation_CAB_0010MISSION — Mission police this week combed the area along West 2 Mile Line Road near the home of retired U.S. Border Patrol Agent Willis Spears Kimmons who was found dead last week. The suspects have told officials they got rid of the weapon used in the area.

Police spokesman Sgt. Jody Tittle said the department is trying to find anything that would help the case, even though the suspects have confessed to the crime.

Authorities were unsuccessful in their search using a canine unit and divers in the canal next to the house.

Read more: MPD searching for evidence, stolen items in Kimmons death


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