Drought Over for Houston?

Radar image from Weather Underground
You don't have to be a meteorologist to know the weather in Houston has done an about-face since last summer. Man-made ponds and lakes that were drying up in August are now back to normal as 2012 has gotten off to a very wet start. 

 

If you have a golf course, lake or scenic pond in your neighborhood, you probably watched the water level get lower and lower and lower each week last summer.

There was little hope for change anytime soon as just about all the weather experts were predicting the drought to continue for some time. Well we now know they were wrong, as rain totals for this year are blowing last year's out of the water. This is Charles Roesler with the National Weather Service in League City.

"Last February for instance, Houston only received 0.69 inches of rain, and in 2012 in February, Houston had 5.98 inches of rain. In March of 2011, we only had 0.78 inches of rain and so far in March, not including this morning's rain fall, we've already had 4.88 inches of rain in March 2012."

Roesler says counting this latest storm, the rainfall for March is now up to 6 inches, making it the tenth wettest month on record for Houston.

He says if you go back more than a decade, there was a similar short period in which Houston went from rain to almost nothing and then back to rain again.

"1998, for instance, we had a wet winter. It was an El Nino Winter and then suddenly, in March, it was like someone just turned off the faucet. We went very dry for April, May, June and July before more heavy rains returned again, starting with Tropical Storm Francis in September and then we had a very rainy October and November."

You won't find very many people complaining about the increased rainfall, although there have been problems this year with flash flooding and overflowing bayous. Francisco Sanchez with the Harris County Office of Emergency Management  explains why  what we're seeing now is the best type of rainfall.    

"Following a drought, it's certainly good to have steady rainfall. We certainly prefer it to be something like this than some of the torrential rains that we got in January. So, steady rain for us is good in terms of it being able to diminish the potential for drought as summer rolls around, but steady rainfall we can certainly live with here."

And if you're wondering if all this rain means the drought is over. Roesler has this answer.

"If you ask me about Harris County, I would say yes, we're out of the drought."