Drought Conditions Improve, But There's Still A Big Rainfall Deficit

The drought in the Houston area is not over. But conditions are getting better. It could take months, if not years, to reach a complete recovery from one of the worst droughts in decades.

The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska produces what it calls a Drought Monitor. Every Thursday, the center updates its maps to show how various regions of the country are doing.  Brian Fuchs is a climatologist with the center. He says, despite recent rainfall, we have not been wet enough for long enough.

"In the Houston area, we're looking at, still, some moderate-to-severe drought showing up on the map. And, mainly, that's associated with what we consider more longer-term issues."

Those longer-term measurements of recovery include how local rivers, reservoirs, and the water table have reponded to this winter's rainfall. Fuchs says while those issues are generally improving, we are nowhere close to being out of the drought. 

"And so you start looking at how much rain, typically, falls in the region, and you're still 20 inches down — there's still some ground to make up before you can say this area's fully recovered."

Fuchs says this winter has been wetter than expected, especially during a La Nina year. He says it's still possible that the next couple of months could turn warmer and drier, more in line with La Nina's pattern, and further delaying the end of the drought.


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