Statewide Drought Could Last 15 Years

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Despite the relief brought on by the recent rains across the Brazos Valley, the majority of the state remains in a drought. Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, also a TAMU Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, predicts the drought could last anywhere from 1 to 15 years.

Could the dry spell actually drag on for more than a decade?

"Well, it's not going to end tomorrow; there isn't 15 inches of rain in the forecast, so that's not going to happen," said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon.

While some areas have periods of recovery more than others, the Brazos Valley has been hit hard by the lack of rainfall.

"We're running about 5 to 6 inches below normal in the Easterwood Airport; other places nearby in Brenham are like 15 inches below normal."

Even with the predicted rainfall under consideration, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon said it's still not enough to change the area's status as "drought free."

"It very well could be as bad as or worse than the 1950 drought and dry conditions aren't uniform across the state," Dr. Nielsen-Gammon expressed. "In some places, this drought may already have been worse than the 50's drought."

While the majority of local farms are graced with irrigation, Dr. Neilsen-Gammon said it still doesn't keep farmers exempt from this underlying issue at home.

"Pumping water costs money and so the drier it is, the more money it costs to grow a crop; so even if you have irrigation, you're going to be impacted by the drought."

"Agriculturally, our economy partly depends on farmers and ranchers doing okay," Dr. Neilsen-Gammon stressed.

College Station presently has its residents under Stage One Water Restrictions, which is voluntary. The City of Bryan does not have any current water restrictions in place. Officials point to the area's water aquifer and the change of season as reasons such water restrictions are not required.

It's not all bad news though. Neilsen-Gammon said while 80 percent of the state remains in a drought, the amount of "extreme drought" in Texas is on the decline. Levels of "extreme drought" have dropped from 28 to 8 percent.