Any Relief In Sight for the Texas Drought?
Last year, Texas experienced its worst year-long drought on record with 88% of the state in exceptional drought conditions and an estimated 14.8 inches of rain (normal annual average is around 34.70 inches). The Texas drought of 2011 actually began in 2010 with the start of La Niña cycle, which brought Texas the unusually dry and warm weather we experienced in 2011. During the La Niña cycle, the sea-surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean is lower than normal. Since the ocean is essentially the biggest influence on our weather, this slight shift in temperature can cause a dramatic effect. It’s the reason why Texas had months of high-pressure and dry conditions over the state last year. For a visual, let’s compare the US Drought Monitor’s (USDM) Drought Maps from a year ago to see where we are currently with the drought:
What a difference a year makes! For an animated version of the Texas Drought, check out this neat animation from StateImpact.
Most of Texas had a rainy winter season which helped decrease drought conditions considerably, even bringing some areas out of drought conditions. But Texas should still be leery since drought conditions in the state rose 2% since the end of May. As of right now, it is impossible for anyone to predict if this trend will continue. With the La Niña phenomenon, scientist knew what type of pattern existed and could make estimations based on that, but La Niña is expected to be all but gone by this summer, which will make rainfall predictions that much harder. As of right now, no one is sure what to expect this year with an equal chance of precipitation being either above or below normal. For a look at the weather predictions for the next few months, check out our previous post.