La Nina = More Drought in Texas?

The headlines the last two days have been dire:

Drought in Texas, plains may persist until 2012

No relief in sight for Texas heat and drought

Forecasters warn drought may extend into 2012

Well, maybe. 

First, the current drought is one of the worst in history. I was chatting with one of the NWS forecasters from their Midland-Odessa, TX office and I learned that the ten month period from October, 2010 through July, 2011 is the driest in history: Only 0.18 inches of rain have fallen. The second (non-overlapping) driest had a relatively generous 2.60 inches. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration s now forecasting a return to La Nina conditions in the Pacific (cooler than normal water west of South America along the equator). And, yes, there is often dry weather in Texas during La Nina. But, consider:
  • The forecast of a return to La Nina may be incorrect. These forecasts are hardly infallible. 
  • Just because there is a La Nina, Texas will not necessarily have a continued drought. For example, at Midland-Odessa, the early to mid-50's were extremely dry but the drought broke in 1957 in a year that started with La Nina.
  • 1975 was extremely wet in Midland with a strong El Nino La Nina all year.
So, take these forecasts with a grain of salt. 


  1. Mike,

    I think that you meant to write La Nina in the last sentence on 1975.

    Early each month I visit Dr. Klaus Wolters' Enso Index (MEI) just before I go to yours. The last chart this month shows our current MEI vs. the six strongest since 1950.

    The current MEI looks very similar to the 1973-75 readings.

    Your choice of 1975 could be a great call!

    Gary in Olympia

  2. Gary, thank you. I will correct momentarily.

    READERS: Whenever my fingers and brain are out of synch, please feel free to point it out.



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