Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

A Drier, Warmer Than Normal Winter on the Way for Texas

Earlier this week, we took a look back at the awful year of weather that Texas had in 2011. Now it’s time to look forward, and new winter weather predictions from the National Oceanic and Atsmopheric Administration do not bode well for a possible end to the drought.

First, this winter’s weather doesn’t look like it will buck the trend of higher temperatures:

Map by NOAA Climate Program

Winter temperature outlook

Much of the state has a fifty percent chance of temperatures well above normal this winter. And it doesn’t look like this there’s going to be much rain, either.

Map by NOAA Climate Program

Winter precipitation outlook

That’s a fifty percent chance of “well below normal” precipitation (against patterns from the last 40 years) for most of Texas this winter, which means lower chances for drought relief.

What’s behind all this? La Niña, a weather pattern where the surface temperatures are cooler in the Pacific, which creates drier, warmer weather in the southern U.S. (You may also know her counterpart, El Niño, which has the opposite effect.) La Niña sticks around for a year, sometimes longer, and tends to return once every few years. The last La Niña occured in 1995.

The good news? La Niña happens with half the frequency of El Niño. So it could be that we see a cooler, wetter El Niño arrive sometime after next spring.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »