State Climatologist on the latest drought information
The drought in Texas continues to worsen as most areas in the state have yet to receive the significant rainfall needed to help start pulling out of drought conditions, according to Texas' state climatologist.
"If we don't get 4.5 inches of rain between now and the end of September, we will have the driest one year period ever surpassing 1956, which is the drought of record for most places," said Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. "Since October 1 (2010), we've had a little more than 9 inches of rain on average for the state; normal would be about 23 inches, so we're well below 50 percent."
Nielsen-Gammon said that the outlook for the typically wettest months of the year-September and October-and the winter looked quite promising until the last month or so. However, he said this outlook can change as fast as the Texas weather.
"Some of the indications now say that we might see another La Nina developing, which will tilt the odds toward another dry winter," he said. "The thing to worry about is the 50 percent chance of a La Nina this winter and the possibility that the drought will continue and water supplies will continue to get worse."
If the drought continues as it has thus far, Nielsen-Gammon suspects that "sometime next year, some places in the state will exceed their drought of record, and with the increase of population and the increase of water use, we'll start seeing some serious problems."
He said the hope is that during the next few months entities such as municipalities, water districts and other water managers and controllers will work out and try to figure out, "Well, what would happen if we had another dry year like this one? How much projection in water use would that be? What restrictions would we have to put in? What's our fallback position if we have to get water from another source? Is that fallback position a source for 10 other locations? They may not be able to supply us."
"Not often you can see a disaster coming a year in advance, and there's certainly the odds are against a disaster next year, but the odds are a lot better now than they would be in other years," Nielsen-Gammon said. "So this is a rare opportunity to plan ahead for a disaster that may be coming and prevent it from becoming a disaster."
During this time of drought, he reminds everyone to keep water conservation practices in mind. Separate optional uses of water, such as watering lawns to keep them green, from mandatory uses of water like drinking water.
"The more water that gets conserved now, the more water is available for next year if the drought goes on into next year," Nielsen-Gammon said.
More drought and water conservation information can be found through the Texas Water Resources Institute website at twri.tamu.edu.