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This drought could last a long time

In case you needed some gloomy news.

Texas’ historic and lingering drought has already worn out its welcome, but it could easily stay around for years and there is a chance it might last another five years or even until 2020, says a Texas A&M University weather expert.

John Nielsen-Gammon, who serves as Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M, says the culprit is the likely establishment of a new La Niña in the central Pacific Ocean. A La Niña is formed when colder than usual ocean temperatures form in the central Pacific, and these tend to create wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest but also drier than normal conditions in the Southwest. A La Niña has been blamed for starting the current drought but the new one, which began developing several weeks ago, is likely to extend drought conditions for Texas and much of the Southwest.

Currently, about 95 percent of Texas is in either a severe or exceptional drought status and the past year has been the worst one-year drought in the state’s history, Nielsen-Gammon adds.

“This is looking more and more like a multi-year drought,” explains the Texas A&M professor.


“Our best chance to weaken the drought would have been a tropical system coming in from the gulf, but that never happened and hurricane season is just about over for us,” Nielsen-Gammon reports. “There’s still hope for significant rain through the end of October while tropical moisture is still hanging around, but that’s all it is – a hope.”

“In the next few months, the outlook is not all that promising for rain. Parts of Texas, such as the Panhandle and far Northeast Texas, have a better chance than the rest of the state,” he adds.

“Because Texas needs substantially above-normal rain to recover, and it’s not likely to get it, I expect that most of the state will still be in major drought through next summer.”

And in the meantime, our long term water needs will continue to be unfunded. Have a nice day.

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One Comment

  1. JJ says:

    State-wide I agree there are big problems. San Antonio is in big trouble, other West Texas places. In Houston not so much. Don’t we have Lake Houston, then Conroe is 2x Houston, then Livingston is 4x Houston? And those reservoirs get filled from the north more than from local rain? And we’ve only tapped Conroe this year, and I am not sure how much, perhaps not much. I think some areas around Houston have not taxed and spent the money to plan like Houston has, relying much more on well water, rain-filled reservoirs, etc. And I don’t think Houston can help them much unless lots of pipelines are built first.