Flash drought descends on Austin metro area, Central Texas

Weather

It was just two months ago during a very wet September drought conditions were completely erased from Central Texas. But, with less than 3/4″ rainfall in Austin over the last two months, drought conditions have returned so quickly it is characterized as a flash drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor weekly update has shown a rapid expansion of drought conditions across the KXAN viewing area, with parts of the Hill Country now experiencing extreme drought conditions.

NOAA researchers define a flash drought as an event with greater than or equal to two categories degradation in a four-week period based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. That is exactly what most of Central Texas has experienced over the last month.

Drought conditions will continue to worsen until we see some significant rainfall, which is currently not in the forecast. The latest outlook indicates worsening drought conditions into January 2021.

A flash drought is underway across Central Texas, but even drier conditions are indicated in West Texas
The latest drought forecast indicates worsening conditions across much of Texas through January, 2021

As seen in the graphic below, a La Niña pattern (blue shades) is in place across the Pacific Ocean. This is likely responsible for our recent dry, warm weather pattern, and is expected to cause a warmer and drier than normal winter season across Texas, worsening drought conditions.

This map, available at Climate.gov’s Data Snapshots, shows where and by how much monthly sea surface temperature in October differed from its 1981 to 2010 average. Red areas were warmer than average, and blue areas were cooler than average. The map focuses on the ENSO monitoring region.
La Niña winters usually bring warmer and drier than normal weather across the southern U.S.

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