Texas faces worst dry spell since 1895

Texas drought 2011-09-11

Texas isn’t the only place affected by heat and drought.

August was yet another busy month for global weather extremes. Highlights included record-busting heat and drought (again) in the south-central portions of the U.S.A. The climatological summer of June-August was the 2nd warmest since accurate measurements began in 1895. An intense heat wave also affected southern Europe in mid-month. Severe tropical storms lashed the eastern seaboard of the USA (Irene) and the Philippines and Japan. Torrential rains caused devastating flooding and landslides in Nigeria and Uganda. But the 2nd most important extreme weather story (2nd to the USA heat wave and drought) was the record cold wave and blizzard that hit New Zealand on August 14-15. Source: Weather Extremes : August 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary : Weather Underground.

This drought and summer-heat is still going, and may continue until summer 2012. It did cool off last week though – lows in the mid-50’s, highs in the low 90’s – but we’ve only seen 1 inch of rain since August 1. That cool off is 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Usually we have a cool spell during the 3rd week of September.

Since January 1, state and local firefighters and crews from across the country have battled 18,887 wildfires over more than 3.5 million acres in Texas, according to state officials. Source: More wildfires erupt in Texas as it faces worst dry spell since 1895 – CNN.com.

Back in June I reported about Global Weirding and the number of counties in exceptional drought. Well, as expected, the trend continued into September. As of September 6, 81% of counties are in exceptional drought – the worst on the Drought Monitor’s scale.

See how fast wildfire spreads – Texas Parks and Wildlife

Global Weirding Serves Texas Worst Drought Since Dust Bowl

Almost two years after the drought of 2009, Texas is worse off than ever before. This summer, there are almost 4 times as many counties experiencing “exceptional” drought than in 2009 and almost 2 times as many than in 2006.

Just how hot is it? On May 25 – 27 days before the start of summer – we reached 100° F in Brazos county! If that’s a trend, I expect 45 – 60 days of 100+ degree days this summer. That is insane hot!

To our relief, it has rained and we got maybe 1/2 inch the last two nights. That will probably prolong the grass’ life another week or two. Check back in September, Texas might be in Dust Bowl 2.0. Meanwhile, crops and livestock are holding on for dear life.

To compound the trouble – or as a result of drought – Texas has experienced the worst fires ever too. More than 2 million acres have burned and it is only June – we have at least 90 days of dry, hot conditions ahead.

The tinder-dry conditions in Texas have spawned thousands of wildfires that have killed two firefighters, scorched about 2.3 million acres and destroyed about 400 homes since November. Source: Severe drought in Texas worst in map’s history | Star-Telegram

Texas Winter Drought 2010-11 from La Niña

Back in July of 2009 I wrote about how one of the worst droughts in Texas was worsening.

Now it’s December, 2010, and we are staring down the barrel of another (winter) drought – one of the worst.

The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday indicated 85 percent of Texas is between abnormally dry and in extreme drought, compared to about 29 percent a year ago. Source: KBTX.com | Experts Fear Texas Heading Into Another Severe Drought

I appears to be the effects of La Niña.

La Niña causes mostly the opposite effects of El Niño. La Niña causes above average precipitation across the North Midwest, the Northern Rockies, Northern California, and in the Pacific Northwest’s southern and eastern regions. Meanwhile there is below average precipitation in the southwestern and southeastern states. Source: Wikipedia | El Niño-Southern Oscillation and NOAA.gov | ENSO Diagnostic Discussion

This certainly appears to be true. For the past week – 2 weeks before winter – the North Midwest (Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo) has been buried by snow.

Texas’ Drought Worsens

How bad is it? With triple-digit temperatures for the past 45+ days and only a trace of rain in the same time period, it feels like we are baking in the Texas heat. But, when we step back and look at historical drought percentages, it doesn’t appear all that bad. It’s not as bad as 2006-2007.

“LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – Ovenlike heat continues to bake Texas, and the map that charts drought in the United States shows the worst-stricken areas of Texas have wilted further. The U.S. Drought Monitor map released last week shows areas of Central and South Texas in extreme and exceptional drought expanded since last week. The two worst stages of drought now cover 14.1 percent of the state, up from 11.1 last week. Texas is the only spot in the nation with extreme and exceptional drought.” Source: KBTX.com.

I guess time will tell. I don’t think it will be the driest summer ever, but it sure is hot.