Texas climatologist expects hot, dry summer, relief in the fall
COLLEGE STATION – State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said there’s a chance that an El Niño might develop later this year, but even if it does, its effects will not be in time to offset another dry, hot summer.
“Most of the forecast models are pointing in a positive direction for an El Niño. It’s still way too early to say, but there’s a potential for it,” said Nielsen-Gammon, College Station.
But even if with a strong El Niño — which usually brings more moisture to parts of the Southwest and Midwest—it’s effects would not be felt until this fall, he said.
As for this summer, there’s been a trend for hotter summers in the last several years, and that’s likely to continue.
“That’s not good for drought conditions, because that means more evaporation and more water demand,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
The recent wet fall has been followed by a fairly dry December and an especially dry January, he noted.
“The thing about the dry winter is that we’ve had some fall moisture issues already,” he said. “Depending upon how much rain we get in the spring, that basically determines how rapidly things dry out in the summertime. Even with a normal rainfall, summer is a time in just about all areas of the state when we’re water stressed because evapotranspiration is so high. So we’re going to hit the summertime dry conditions earlier than normal, unless we make up this winter moisture deficit in the next couple of months.”
And making up that winter deficit in February and March seems unlikely at this time, he said.
“We still don’t have a good jet-stream pattern to bring us plentiful moisture, and there’s no sign of it developing.”
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
Central: The region had extremely cold weather with freezing rain and drizzle. Temperatures fluctuated from the mid-60s to teens. Oats and wheat went dormant in response to the cold weather. Pecan producers finished harvesting, but many had to store pecans that were not sold early because of low prices. Livestock were in good condition with forage supplies holding despite a lot of hay being fed because of many days of weather at or below freezing. Stock water tanks and rivers were full. Because of an improved moisture profile, producers were looking forward to greener and more productive pastures this spring.