Thursday, February 12, 2009

Texas in the grip of worst drought in a decade

Three-quarters of Texas is facing the worst drought the areas have seen in nearly 100 years. Parts of the state have not seen significant rainfall since August. The situation is so dire that ranchers are having to spend heavily to feed their cattle through the winter and farmers are considering not planting because the soil is too dry for seed to germinate. James McKinley Jr. of The New York Times reports, "In the last three months, only about a quarter of the usual rain and snow has fallen across the state." Meteorologists say a weather pattern over the Pacific known as La Niña has pushed the jet stream north, keeping the normal fall and winter rains away. (Times photo)

For farmers the time to plant corn has nearly passed, with sorghum and cotton to only remaining options should the rains come. Ranchers' worst fears may be realized this summer if they are forced to slaughter their herds. "Complicating the calculus for farmers and ranchers, prices for grain and beef have dropped, as people across the country have cut their spending in the economic crisis," writes McKinley. (Read more)

The Dallas area has experienced two years of prolonged drought and climate scientists say conditions are likely to continue. "The U.S. Climate Prediction Center foresees drought conditions continuing or developing across most of the state.," reports Roy Appleton of the Dallas Morning News. "Forecasters expect the La Niña weather pattern to persist through April, with cooler-than-normal water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean tending to weaken the tropical jet stream and keep rain-producing storms north of Texas." (Read more)

1 comment:

swan said...

That should read " . . . worst drought in a century" . . .

I live in central Texas. The trees are dying from lack of water. The natural ground cover is dead and gone and the earth is bone dry. The lakes are way down. There was a city council meeting in Austin Thursday night and one of the items on the agenda was a developer trying to get a permit to build over the recharge zone of Barton Springs. I'm glad to say the opposition was fierce. These are hard times in Texas.