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Climate Change in the Brazos Valley

By: Rodney Harris Email
By: Rodney Harris Email

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“Global warming is real. We humans beings are causing it, the results are very bad, headed towards catastrophic", said former Vice President Al Gore in an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Dreaded words, or political buzz? More importantly, half a country away do the words ring true here in the Brazos Valley?

To get a local perspective, we took a stroll to Leon county and talked with one of our longtime weather watchers. Steve Huebner doesn’t have to rely on Washington to hear about how hot or cold it is here locally. He and his wife own a Christmas tree farm near Centerville and are out in the elements every day.

“It’s kind of hard to say that we’re getting warmer or colder, wetter or drier. It just seems like we kind of go in cycles", said Huebner.

And cycles are exactly what we found when we took a 30-year sample of recorded history in Bryan/College Station.I looked at several temperature patterns for Bryan/College Station and found no consistent warming or cooling trend.

The average yearly temperature -- which is 69 degrees -- simply curves back-and-forth from year to year. But does that mean the climate isn’t changing? Not exactly.

Huebner went on to say: “It seems like we’re seeing higher temperatures real early in the summer.”

And since the higher temperatures usually correspond to a lack of rain, that has meant the droughts have gotten worse and last a little longer.

“That’s been the problem, particularly for farmers and ranchers. We’ve had to make some changes in the way we run our farm. We really didn’t think we we’re going to have to irrigate very much, but as it’s turning out, the last two or three years, we simply have had to irrigate to keep our trees and so-forth alive", he continued.

And even then, there’s still another side of Mature Nature that has constantly kept us on guard lately. From major hurricanes, to tornadoes, and even snow, is an increase in these bizarre conditions a sign?

“I think the jury’s still out. I do believe with all the high speed communication and modern technology, we’re more aware of what’s going on around us", said KBTX Media chief meteorologist Bob French.

Once the verdict does come in, instead of trying to figure out exactly what’s going on, I guess we’ll all start to focus more on a solution, one which may turn out to be a lot simpler than we think.

As Steve Huebner put it: “We just have to learn to adapt to it and deal with it.”

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Click here for the temperature data used in this report.

* 30 years of data was used to study temperature patterns for this story, from 1979-2008.

* The data was recorded at Easterwood Field in College Station, the official weather reporting site for Bryan/College Station.


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