Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Abnormally Dry November Stirs Fears of Extreme Drought’s Return

Photo by Mose Buchele

Cracked ground in far West Texas. Some parts of the state never fully recovered from the drought of 2011.

Only a quarter inch of rain will have fallen on average in Texas through the entire month of November, according to estimates provided to StateImpact Texas by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

That would make it about the 3rd or 4th driest November since record keeping started in 1895.  If you look at the last two months together, estimates say it’s been the driest October and November since the drought of record in the 1950s.

“The worst one year drought in Texas on record began in October 2010 and lasted about a year,” NOAA meteorologist Victor Murphy tells StateImpact Texas.

“We saw some brief improvement in late 2011, early 2012, and now boom! We’re right back in a pretty dry pattern again,” Murphy added. “So, arguably, you could make the case that perhaps we’re in the third year of drought here in Texas. Especially certain parts of the state, we obviously are.”

Meteorologists had thought an El Nino weather system would bring a wetter-than-usual winter to Texas. But that appears to have dissipated.

“So now basically we’re in neutral status as far as pacific ocean surface temperatures go. El Niño or La Niño, we’re basically in La Nada as far as that goes,” says Murphy.

If dry weather persists through winter and spring, Texas could be set up for a summer similar to that of 2011, which was the worst single year drought in Texas history, and potentially put the state in multi-year conditions similar to the drought of record, according to the state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.


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