Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Could 2014 Be a Drought-Buster for Texas?

An empty rain gauge is strapped to a fence post on the edge of a pasture this summer near Canadian, Texas

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

An empty rain gauge is strapped to a fence post on the edge of a pasture this summer near Canadian, Texas

In Spanish, El Niño means “the boy child.” But if El Niño predictions for late 2014 prove correct, winter rainfall in Texas could be anything but little.  The deceptively-named weather pattern generally brings rain to Texas. Lots of it.

El Niño occurs when warm water buried below the surface of the Pacific rises up and spreads along the equator towards America. It often causes storms that devastate parts of Latin America, Indonesia and Australia, but it could also bring relief to drought-stricken Texas.

“It tends to cause the jetstream to be farther south than normal, which means we may get more rain events, generally cool temperatures and lots of run-off, which would be good for reservoir levels,” John Nielsen-Gammen, Texas State Climatologist, tells StateImpact Texas.

Now, a new study from Stanford University gives the El Niño weather pattern a 76 percent chance of returning this year. What exactly does that mean?

If El Niño does form, Texas might see some wetter weather even before the winter months, Nielsen-Gammen says.

It could also mean a possibly weaker hurricane season for the Gulf of Mexico.

Too Early to Know for Sure

Climatologists are generally limited to predicting El Niño 6 months prior to its formation, due to what is called the “spring barrier.” But Stanford researchers believe they developed a model that allows projection of an El Niño event a whole year ahead.

Nielsen-Gammon says more time must pass in order to make a definite forecast.

“I’ve been telling people that signs are pointing towards the possibility of an El Niño, but it’s still too early to call,” Nielsen-Gammon says.

Texans have been disappointed by a no-show in the recent past. In 2012 forecasters said there was a good chance El Niño could bring relief from the drought, but the weather pattern never formed.


  • Leslie Graham

    We will also get a new record high global surface temperature record the way we always do these days.
    Not good news – except that it might force the carbon corporation BS machine to switch to using a new myth. Maybe “Climate Change is just a great thing”.?
    The old – “it’s all a communist hoax” doesn’t work any longer now that people can see the climate changing right in front of their eyes.

    • Dirk Diggler

      Ahhh…climactic weather patterns are just that: Patterns. It has happened before and it will happen again. We had a drought that lasted from 1949-1956. This one is supposed to be the second-worst one on record. Even before Texas was even settled, there were reports of natives who had not seen rain in two years…that was back in 1545.

      • Dry Texan


      • Texan

        This has been the driest three-year period for Lubbock on record. Something is definitely not right.

        • SchmidtyFi

          And, since you posted this, you’ve had higher than normal rainfall — so, the past 3 and 5 and X years are normal.

          No bother, climatistas will find away to explain that away.

          Party of science, indeed, lol.

    • BarryBarry

      Clearly the new highs will be the result of El Niño…weather. Or are you one of those who says record highs are Climate Change but record lows are weather?

      Just pick one or STFU.

      • Micah

        Ah, Texans vs. Science.

        • BarryBarry

          Ahh…Liberals perverting Science in their never ending quest to Control people.

          • Danny

            Haha, if you think Liberals are controlling and the other side only spits truth, you are just as delusional and ill advised as those you seek to demean. Wake up.

          • Edward Kirby

            Its not just liberals, pal. Not all Republicans embrace the Tea Party’s madness.

  • Edward Kirby

    If the only time Texas gets rain is when an el Nino event occurs, then Texas will be drier than the Sahara soon.

    • DJ

      Edward I live in Texas and it was said many years ago the state is leaning towards turning arid. I live in the Austin area and we have been in a drought for over 6 years. Our wearther pattern has changed drastically. I’m hoping this rain comes and fills up our lake system. It’s extrememly low.

      • n5ifi

        Changed drastically based on what? Based on recorded history? Based on your lifetime? Based on your seat of the pants is my guess. The fact that the Austin and the South Texas area is many times more crowded/populated than it was in the 70′s for instance says a lot about why there is less water than in the past too. When I was a little kid in the 60′s we used to drive all over that part of the world and I’ll never forget seeing old run down houses in the middle of no where abandoned and forgotten. Why? Was it because they didn’t have any water at some point? Why were ranchers in the 60′s burning needles off the prickly pears to give the cows something to eat? Water has always been an issue in South Texas. Some times are better than others but man has nothing to do with it other than from a use standpoint.

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