All across the Texas, the signs of this year's drought is evident from the Panhandle to the Brazos Valley. As we wrap up one of the driest and hottest years ever recorded in state history, we look back on the dry and dusty year of 2011.
If you look back, the drought actually began back in October of 2010. It wasn't until hotter temperatures took hold that the effects of the drought really became evident.
2011 ranks in the top 5 driest years ever recorded in the Brazos Valley. With less than 18 inches of rain falling -- when about 40 inches is the normal -- the only years to beat 2011 are 1917 and 1988.
Heat begets drought and drought begets heat. The year turned into a sick cycle of problems when we started breaking record highs as early as April as 90° afternoons came too soon. In all, 69 days at or above 100° set a new record locally for triple digits days. Also, when counted up, Bryan / College Station sweated through 152 days at or above 90° -- most of which topped off at either 98° or 99°.
Farmers lost entire crops and cattle had to be sold off by the hundreds. The landscape of Texas will be forever changed after hundreds of thousands of trees died due to lack of water endangering local animal and reptile habitation -- especially in the Texas Panhandle.
With a La Nina pattern still in effect due to cooler waters in the Pacific Ocean, long-term forecasters expect the drought to continue on into the Spring of 2012 -- another vital time period that Texas normally receives a bulk of it's rainfall.