State Climatologist: Texas facing long, hot summer

From AgriLife Today

COLLEGE STATION (July 3, 2018)  – Dry conditions continue to persist in much of the state as this summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record, according to Texas State Climatologist, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon. He said parts of the state received rains that improved moisture levels while other areas continued to experience dry, hot weather. 

Dry conditions are forcing cattle producers in some areas to provide supplemental feed earlier and more frequently than normal. Some areas of the state received significant rains, but most of the state lingers in drought are are nearing drought conditions rapidly. 

Northern counties of the Panhandle and the southern parts of the state along the lower Rio Grande and Coastal Bend improved significantly after heavy rains, he said. Some areas in southern Texas experienced flooding.

But as those areas received rains, Nielsen-Gammon said large swaths of the state, including Northeast, Central and West Central Texas continued to dry out. Parts of Northeast Texas and along the Interstate 35 corridor have received less than 50 percent of their normal rainfall over the last two months.

In the short-term, Nielsen-Gammon said the southern half of the state could receive rain from tropical moisture later this week. But the following weeks look dry for most of the state.

July is typically the driest month for most of the state, he said.

“There may be a decent chance of rain for extreme North and West Texas in the coming weeks,” he said. “That could bring some relief from dry conditions, but as things look right now, much of the state will continue to be dry.”

Meanwhile, temperatures were 3-4 degrees warmer than average over the last month, Nielsen-Gammon said. Temperatures in parts of West Texas have averaged 6-8 degrees warmer than normal since the beginning of May.

“Every station in Texas reported above-normal temperatures, which would make it one of the 10 warmest Junes on record,” he said. “We’re not on pace to equal 2011, but it’s setting up to be a relatively hot summer.”

Nielsen-Gammon said 2011 continues to be the most extreme outlier when it comes to drought. That year, temperatures were more than 5 degrees above normal, or twice the previous record for above-average temperatures.

“If conditions continue as they have been, 2018 could be the second hottest summer on record,” he said. “We could pull that off.”

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