Climatologist: Hot, dry summer likely
By Robert Burns
COLLEGE STATION -- State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon said there’s a chance that an El Niño might develop later this year, but even if it does, its effects will not be in time to offset another dry, hot summer.
“Most of the forecast models are pointing in a positive direction for an El Niño. It’s still way too early to say, but there’s a potential for it,” said Nielsen-Gammon.
But even with a strong El Niño -- which usually brings more moisture to parts of the Southwest and Midwest -- its effects would not be felt until this fall, he said.
As for this summer, there’s been a trend for hotter summers in the last several years, and that’s likely to continue.
“That’s not good for drought conditions, because that means more evaporation and more water demand,” Nielsen-Gammon said.
The recent wet fall has been followed by a fairly dry December and an especially dry January, he noted.
“The thing about the dry winter is that we’ve had some fall moisture issues already,” he said. “Depending upon how much rain we get in the spring, that basically determines how rapidly things dry out in the summertime. Even with a normal rainfall, summer is a time in just about all areas of the state when we’re water stressed because evapotranspiration is so high. So we’re going to hit the summertime dry conditions earlier than normal, unless we make up this winter moisture deficit in the next couple of months.”
And making up that winter deficit in February and March seems unlikely at this time, he said.
“We still don’t have a good jet stream pattern to bring us plentiful moisture, and there’s no sign of it developing.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the Feb. 11 report:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported the region had cold, wintery weather with very little moisture. A few counties reported freezing rain, sleet, and snow, stopping fieldwork for several days. Overall, winter wheat and oats remained in good condition; however, recent hard freezes and the lack of rain caused some minor crop damage in some areas. Dry conditions persisted across the region. Livestock were in fair condition and supplemental feeding continued.
Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.