Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Is the Drought Ending? Who Really Knows

Photo by Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

What was once a marina is now a cliff overlooking a dry riverbed in Spicewood Beach

Rain clouds are scattered across the radar today for Central and Northern Texas. But the overall trend in the state for the past several weeks has been dry. In fact, the results of the U.S. Drought Monitor Map released today shows 6.5 percent more of the state is in drought this week than last week.

While Texas had a relatively wet winter that has brought great relief to many parts of the state, the drought isn’t officially over. And May and the first half of June tend to be the wettest parts of the year, before the evaporating rays of high summer begin. So was the rainy relief we experienced this winter nothing more than a mere tease, or is the rain just running a bit behind?

To find out, StateImpact Texas consulted state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon. He talked to us about precipitation predictions for the rest of the summer.

The simple response, typical of fields based on prediction: there really is no certainty. “Summertime rains are unpredictable,” Nielsen-Gammon says.

In addition, evidence of a warmer-than-normal Atlantic, a trend that’s been occurring for the past sixteen years, negates the hope that a busy tropical storm season might bring relief. Nielsen-Gammon says that a warmer Atlantic, while promoting thunderstorm activity, actually encourages more storms over water and inhibits storm formation over land.

The one area where he did offer hope for relief was projecting the arrival of La Niña‘s more beneficent sibling, El Niño. He says there are “favorable” chances of El Niño bringing a wetter than normal winter later this year.

Nielsen-Gammon adds that we can expect a better wildfire season this year, because the ground won’t be as dry and the winds that fanned last year’s fires aren’t nearly as active this time around.

And that’s good because who knows if there will be water falling from the sky to help put the fires out.

Here’s the three-month drought outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Map by NOAA

NOAA's Seasonal Drought Outlook shows some potential hope for Texas' summer

Daniel Ramierz is an intern with StateImpact Texas.



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