From the Ground Up - Will The Drought Continue

The last 12 months have been the most intense drought Texas has ever seen dating all the way back to 1895 when weather records began.

We had less than half of our normal rainfall, two and a half inches below the previous record which was set in 1956, and everyone is wondering when the drought will end.

“We had not just dry weather, but hot weather this summer. We broke records all across the state for warm temperatures. Part of that’s because of the lack of rainfall. If you have less rain there’s less evaporation and all of the solar energy comes into heating up the ground.”

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon is the Texas State Climatologist.

“Part of the cause of the drought was the La Nina condition in the Pacific. Those got started during the summer of 2010, and we turned dry, I can almost pick the date, September 27 was the day the last major storm left the state.”

Going forward it looks like the chances are good for another La Nina developing.

“Back in August the weather service was saying about a fifty per cent chance of a La Nina, beginning of September is was up to about a seventy five per cent chance, and it’s almost certain at this point because the temperatures are staying cool in the tropical Pacific.”

That doesn’t mean we’ll have a carbon copy of last year’s weather.

“I don’t think that means we have another year of forty per cent of normal rainfall because that was such an anomaly even among La Nina years. Scientists are still looking to figure out why it was so dry, but at least from an odds point of view, next winter probably won’t be as dry as that one, be hard to duplicate it.”

The few showers we’ve had in September and October provided a little relief, but rainfall totals were still below normal.

“One of the really bad things about last winter and spring was that we got locked into this weather pattern and we never got any really substantial rain.”

Nielsen-Gammon expects another dry spell, the question is how dry.

“We could get lucky with thunderstorms, but probably we’re going to be dealing with some sort of water shortage in terms of soil moisture and that sort of thing, through next summer because right now there’s no water in the bank, as it were, you can dig down as far as you want to.”

I’m Ashley Batey, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From the Ground Up.

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