Hot, dry weather will be followed by ... hot, dry
SAN MARCOS -- Hurricane season began June 1, and with three tropical storms forming, U.S. farmers may have hoped for rains from the storms to produce bumper crops. Instead, the 2011 drought that had receded returned with force, this time encompassing even more of the nation.
Paul Yura, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, presented a bleak weather outlook to cattlemen gathered in June in San Marcos for the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas annual convention.
In his presentation, “Drought ... Broken by the Occasional Drought,” Yura said the drought of 2011 was a year when:
•Debris from the 2003 space shuttle Columbia was found in Lake Nacogdoches.
•Wichita Falls had temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more for 100 days, from June 1 until Aug. 31.
•Texas recorded its driest year on record, with only 14.88 inches of rainfall, shattering the previous record of 14.99 inches set in 1915. The average state rainfall is 28 inches.
Yura said the last drought was due to a La Niña weather pattern.
What is in store for the 2012 hurricane season? According to Yura,
•Nine to 15 named storms (Average is 12).
•Four to eight hurricanes (Average is six)
•One to three major hurricanes listed as a Category 3 or stronger (Winds greater than 111 mph).
Yura said that in El Niño weather patterns, hurricane formation declines, but during La Niña weather patterns, an increase in hurricane activity is anticipated.
Hurricane Andrew, which made landfall in Florida in 1992, occurred during an El Niño year, causing $40 billion in damages.
Since June, meteorologists have seen an El Niño weather pattern form, with predictions of above-average rainfall anticipated for the fall.
Yura predicts the June through August 90-day outlook for precipitation to be “equal chance,” with temperatures above normal.
West Texas may see “some improvement” in drought conditions, while South Texas conditions are “persistent.”
See map for a recent drought update, with Texas and much of the central United States also included in the “persistent” range. “Weather update” provides more information since the June meeting.
South Texas weather tidbits
Interesting South Texas weather tidbits Paul Yura, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, shared during his June 22 presentation in San Marcos include:
•The flood of 1998 occurred during a La Niña weather pattern. San Marcos received 28 inches of rain in one day.
•Zorn, Texas, holds the record for the most rainfall in 18 hours -- 32 inches.
•New Braunfels in 1972 received 10 inches of rainfall in one hour.
•Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 dumped 43 inches of rain within a 24-hour time span.
•Pandale received 35 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour time span in 1954, during the 1950s drought.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service has released several reports on the severity of the nation’s drought, including:
•“Based upon the July 10 U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 61 percent of the contiguous United States was in drought (D1, moderate -- D4, exceptional), the highest such value for the U.S. Drought Monitor since its inception in 2000.”
•“The combination of heat and dryness has severely reduced the quality and quantity of the corn and soybean crop, with 38 percent of the corn and 30 percent of the soybeans rated as poor or very poor as of July 15 by U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service.”
•“An El Niño Watch continues, with the forecaster consensus reflecting increased chances of an El Niño beginning in July-September.”
•“Brutal heat finally eased late in the period [July 11 report], but daily highs still averaged about 95 degrees in the lower Ohio, Tennessee, and much of the middle Mississippi valleys and the southern half of the Plains. ... Daily highs averaged 10 to 13 degrees above normal” in some of these places, including the southern Great Lakes.
•Year-to-date acreage burned by wildfires totaled 3.1 million as of July 10.
Sources: National Weather Service July 10, 17, and 19 reports.