Texas Winter Defies Expectations, Eases Drought

Map by NOAA

Well, fortunately things did not go as planned. In early December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a drier and warmer winter than normal for Texas and much of the South.

Happily, those forecasts were only half-correct.

While the Texas winter has thus far definitely been warmer than usual (with the notable exception of snowed-in Midland), it has also been much wetter, providing desperately needed rains to the state.

Central and North Texas had rains between “150 and 300 percent of normal,” NOAA says in a report published today, equaling anywhere from two to seven inches of rain. Yet they also say that stations in southern Texas only had between “five and 50 percent of normal precipitation.” Across the state, the average rainfall overall was 2.24 inches. “For Texas, it was the twenty-eighth wettest January on record (1895-2012),” NOAA says, “and the second consecutive month with precipitation greater than two inches.” It was the first time for two months with above-average rains in Texas in two years.

While the drought isn’t over, things have certainly improved, with some parts of north central Texas becoming drought-free. “Much of eastern Texas has also seen a one-category improvement in drought conditions,” NOAA writes.

While the drought has improved in Texas, it’s actually became a little worse in drought-stricken areas of the country as a whole. NOAA says that “the percent area of the U.S. experiencing drought of any severity increased from 31.9 percent at the beginning of January to 37.9 percent at the end of the month. Most of the drought expansion occurred across the Upper Midwest and the western states.”

Read more at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center website.

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