Forecasters Expect Drought To Continue Through Spring

The drought that's gripping Harris and surrounding counties is showing no sign of letting up. Forecasters say the conditions that have choked off rain for the last six months will likely continue through the spring. David Pitman has more.

The National Weather Service says the drought in Harris County is "moderate".  That means the dry conditions have caused 'some' crop damage, and some drinking water reseviors are a bit lower-than-normal.  Parts of nearly all the surrounding counties are under "severe" drought conditions.  They're seeing heavier crop damage, and restrictions on water use.  Charles Roeseler is a Senior Forecaster with the National Weather Service Houston-Galveston office. 

"We virtually had no rain in October, and very dry in November.  But then we had a short window in late December and early January, when we had some above-normal rainfall.  And then we went back into the dry period for the last week of January, all of February, and the last three weeks of March."

Roeseler says it's all because of La Nina.  That's the cooling of the waters in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean.  It resulted in a warm and dry winter.  And Roeseler says the forecast models show it will stay warmer and drier through the end of May.

"The La Nina phase does allow for the tropics to become a bit more active.  So, it's hard to say what we're going to expect this summer.  There's really no skill in determining whether we'll stay below-normal with rainfall, or if we could actually begin to approach normal, or even above normal, rainfalls with the La Nina phase during this summer season." 

Since October, the rainfall deficit from measurements taken at Bush Intercontinental Airport is right at 10-and-a-half inches.

For more information, visit the NWS drought statement.

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David Pitman

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