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Good news for Texas?

The red dot at the top left indicates that the severe drought in Texas this summer was an outlier event — not a trend. [John Nielsen-Gammon]

One of the things that made this past summer so scary was the extraordinary drought in Texas. This part of the Southeast is not all that far from Texas, and many of the same climate patterns apply. For example, La Niña is known to be related to droughts here in North Carolina, and the same is true in Texas.

So I have kept a fearful eye on Texas, desperate to know whether the Texas drought is an ugly new trend or an outlier event that will reverse.

John Nielsen-Gammon has crunched some numbers on this. He acknowledges that his crunching of the meteorological data is crude and preliminary, but it’s the best data we’ve got so far. His concludes that the 2011 drought in Texas is an outlier event and that thus it is highly likely that it will reverse.

Nielsen-Gammon also sheds light on a question that has puzzled me. Why do droughts tend to last for years? We know that La Niña causes short-term droughts that last a season or two or three. But what causes an entire decade of droughts?

Nielsen-Gammon says that the data shows that long-term droughts are related to long-term oscillations of surface water temperatures in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Bottom line: If Nielsen-Gammon is right, then there is cause for hope that these clusters of hot, dry summers will give way to clusters of cooler, wetter summers.

One Comment

  1. Quetal wrote:

    I believe California is coming out of their rain slump (nor California that is) we’re expecting rain tomorrow and snow at 7-10k feet. Quite a bit of last winters snow is still on our mountain tops today.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

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