The latest report on the ongoing drought was released Thursday morning. For the first time in this nine month old drought, 100 percent of the KVUE viewing area is under Exceptional Drought conditions. This is the worst of the four categories of drought.
This historic drought is not only affecting Central Texas, but the entire state. Approximately 65 percent of the state is also under Exceptional Drought conditions. This is the first time this has happened in the 11 years the drought monitor has existed.
According to state climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, the current drought ranks as the third worst in state history. The 1951 to 1956 drought ranks at number one, and the 1917 to 1918 drought comes in second. Climate records date back to 1895.
The ongoing drought can also be blamed for the extreme, record heat for the last several weeks. A lack of soil moisture allows the atmosphere to warm up quickly and produce above average temperatures. A strong summer-like ridge of high pressure has also been in place, suppressing rain chances and producing sunny afternoons.
So what is the forecast for the summer? There is some glimmer of hope that things may slightly improve rainfall wise. NOAA announced last week that La Niña is over, and a more neutral/normal weather pattern is expected over the next several months. Even if normal rainfall amounts were to start now, it still would not help the large deficit for the year that is already in place (nearly 10” deficit at ABIA, 8” at Camp Mabry). A tropical system would be our primary focus for ending this drought in the short term. Tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes can obviously be devastating for coastal areas, but they also bring the hope for tropical downpours and drought relief. This year, an above average hurricane season is expected.
For now, stay cool and stay hopeful!