Above-average precipitation in Texas likely in upcoming months


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Right now, Texas’ weather is shifting from a dry and hot summer to cooler conditions. Parts of the state have experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, with other areas seeing a mixture of light freezing rain and light sleet. 

Michael Gittinger, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Amarillo, said their team researched if getting an early snowfall signaled anything specific. 

“The conclusion we came to is no,” he said. “There are years where we’ve had October snow and it was snowing and above normal [precipitation] and there are years when we’ve had snow in October and we were below normal in the end and didn’t get much the rest of the winter.” 

However, there are small signs 2018 could be a year with above-average rainfall. 

“Some of our snowiest years were El Nino years,” Gittinger said. “It’s all going to come down on how strong it ends up getting. It’s not a very strong event right now and the weaker events are less reliable.” 

According to Texas A&M University Professor and State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, in 2015, the extremely wet month of October made that October to April period “the wettest October – April period on record.” 

“But the rainfall was not evenly distributed across Texas,” the Texas A&M Today article states. “Many parts of west-central, north-central, and northeast Texas received more than double their normal precipitation for November through April, while parts of the Coastal Bend and much of the Texas Panhandle and High Plains received less than normal precipitation.” 

The latest drought monitor shows most of the state isn’t experiencing drought conditions. But Brent Lyles from the Colorado River Alliance says the lack of consistency in Texas’ water cycles makes it hard industries reliant on the resource, like agriculture. 

“The recent rains have been great at alleviating some of the drought conditions across the state, but keep in mind, flooding is also a problem and when you’ve got farmers that can’t get onto their fields because they’re too wet, that creates difficulties as well,” Lyles said. 

“It seems like the pendulum just keeps swinging faster,” Todd Caldwell, research scientist with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin said. “We’re in drought one year and back in flood the next.” 

But there’s a need for the rainfall when it does arrive in Texas. 

“Anytime rain falls, it’s probably a good thing in Texas,” Caldwell said. “We can always use the water somewhere for something.” 

Lyles encourages all Texans to play a role in saving water. 

“When it’s dry out, many of us start conserving water at home, but what we need is continuing those habits all year long,” Lyles said. 

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