It finally happened – in the midst of Texas’ worst one-year drought on record, it actually rained in parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. As in, actual drops of liquid fell from the sky.
In fact, some areas received so much rain that daily maximum rainfall records were set, and flash flooding was a concern. For example, Waco, Texas set a new daily record with 5.83 inches of rain on October 9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma also set a new daily record, with 2.71 inches of rain.
Houston, which is experiencing its driest year on record thus far (and also endured its hottest summer) also set a new daily record, with 5.11 inches. In Dallas, 1.37 inches of rain fell, causing two rain delays during the first game of the American League championship series. The Weather Service has more information about drought conditions in southeastern Texas, including the size of the rainfall deficits.
According to ESPN , the Texas Rangers had played 81 home games this year, and hadn’t had a weather delay since May 24.
While the rain is certainly welcome, the precipitation deficits in this region are so large (think of them as Mother Nature’s equivalent of the US national debt), that it will take much more precipitation to ease the situation. As the National Weather Service stated, “Widespread significant improvement in the ongoing drought is not expected.”
However, the recent rains may be enough to upgrade some parts of Texas and Oklahoma from the “exceptional” drought category to “severe” drought conditions.
Prior to the weekend rains, 88 percent of Texas was in the grips of exceptional drought conditions, with 97 percent of the state in either the severe or exceptional categories.
The rain didn’t fall equally across Texas and Oklahoma. Wichita Falls, which has been one of the hardest hit drought communities, only received 0.47 inches of rain, and rainfall is running 13.88 inches below average there since January 1, 2011.
The longer-range precipitation outlook is not encouraging for Texas, New Mexico, and other drought-stricken areas. With the return of La Nina in the Pacific Ocean, drier than average conditions are likely to continue through this coming winter, according to the latest NWS climate outlooks .