Do Recent Rains Mean The Drought Is Over?

image from the U.S. Drought Monitor
Officials with the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska say it depends on what happens next to determing if the drought is over or not.

The recent steady rains in parts of Texas doesn't mean the drought is over — after all, summer heat is approaching.  But the rains have been a step in the right direction. Mark Svoboda is a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

"Well, it's definitely improved several categories over just the last couple of months, and that's been the trend across Eastern Texas. And from a severe standpoint, 98 percent of Texas was in drought, and you know, we've cut those percentages of area down by 20, 30 percent. But you know, we're heading into the summer here in a couple months and if for some reason we don't have much tropical activity, which has really been the MO the last two summers, then you could quickly slip right back into drought. So I think we need to wait and see what transpires over the rest of spring and summer before I would say the coast is clear." 

Svoboda says improvements of three or four categories on the drought monitor are being recorded over the past couple of months, especially in east Texas.

"I'd say in the short-term, things are really good. You know, we had to start to initially get the soils recharged and then the stream flows coming, and those fill the reservoirs. So it's sort of a domino effect. From a long-term hydrological standpoint, we still have some areas of recharge needed for reservoirs — say groundwater, things of that nature. And that's why on the Drought Monitor map there's an 'L' there for long-term impacts that's still sort of lingering across parts of East and Southeastern Texas."

Average rainfall for the month of March is about 4 inches or more. Some areas in East Texas almost doubled their monthly totals.

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Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...