Drought Likely Continues In South

Beefs and Beliefs

Texas meteorologist says La Nina and other factors contribute to ongoing drought conditions in southern U.S.

Published on: October 12, 2011

Odds are not good for the heart of cattle country to end the drought next year, says Texas state meteorologist and climatologist.

The La Nina phase of the ENSO appears to be shaping up for another spell of dry weather in the southwest and that probably spells bad news for the southern states, especially Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and New Mexico. ENSO stands for El Nino Southern Oscillation and is the cooling/warming cycle in the tropical Pacific Ocean that effects the El Nino-La Nina weather cycle.

So said John Nielson-Gammon, Texas state climatologist at the Beef Financial Management Conference in Amarillo last week, an annual fall event.

Incidentally, this is the second year I've attended this conference and have come away with a load of good financial information both years. I recommend it to anyone who can attend.

Nielson-Gammon said the combined factors of apparently ongoing La Nina, the long-term drying effects from warm temperatures in Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, and the already existing soil dryness in the region make it more likely the south, especially the southwest, will see another dry year.

He explained, however, this is a statistical estimation that suggests Texas, in particular, is about 7% more likely than the average chance to see more droughty weather.

Solar energy from sunspot activity is near a peak right now. That's a major driver of atmospheric heating, including heating of the oceans, which is the main reservoir for release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There are forecasts for it to decline, yet no one can accurately estimate the sun's activity.

Overall, the meteorologist believes the southern portion of the country, in particular, is in a drier-than-normal pattern which will last until sometime around 2020.

You can read Nielson-Gammon's blog here.