3/4’s of Texas now back in drought

28 11 2012

I recently came across the article below on the HoustonTomorrow website (www.houstontomorrow.org).  In what follows, you can read Matt Dietrichson’s article which discusses a new report indicating that most of Texas is facing severe drought conditions.  At this time, the Fort Bend County average KDBI drought index is 549.  Perhaps not time for a burn ban, but it is definitely drying out in our area and the Office of Emergency Management and the Fire Marshal’s Office will be monitoring the dryness level on a continual basis.  Our neighbors in Brazoria County have a KBDI level over 600 and have implemented a burn ban.  With dry conditions, the possibility of wildfires is a distinct possibility.  Hopefully, a few good thunderstorms will produce the rain that is needed, but as the article below indicates, there is also a good chance of continued dryness.

Though conditions are still much better than they were a year ago, a new report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows the majority of the state is in a drought, according to Eric Berger in the  The Houston Chronicle:

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, released this morning, shows that more than three-quarters of Texas is now in at least a “moderate” drought, and nearly half the state is in a “severe” or worse drought.

Now to be clear, conditions are still far better than 13 months ago, when the great 2011 drought peaked. At the time 100 percent of Texas was in a moderate drought, 99 percent in a severe drought, and 88 percent in an exceptional drought.

But conditions have gotten quite a bit worse since May, when the drought was at bay for about half of Texas, including the Houston metro area. Now the majority of greater Houston has returned to drought conditions.

Although November isn’t over, it’s possible Texas could end with its driest October and November period since 1950, says Victor Murphy, a climate specialist with the Southern Region Headquarters of the National Weather Service.

Statewide average rainfall for Texas in November 2012 should be about 0.5 inches versus a normal of nearly 2 inches, he said.  That would make the October/November time period total about 1.3 to 1.4 inches, or about 30 percent of the state’s normal of 4.60 inches.

There are two take-aways. First, although climate change is having an effect on Texas, most notably in temperatures, there are no indications it’s having a meaningful effect on rainfall trends, especially in the October/November period.

With that said, it’s a bit concerning to me that the October/November period the state is currently enduring may end up being drier than the October/November period in 2010, when 1.85 inches of rain fell. That launched the state in the great drought of 2011.

I’m not saying that will happen again. It very likely won’t. But it’s certainly not a good way to go into winter.

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