We don’t often talk about drought conditions during non-drought periods, but I decided that the start of a new month would be a good time to do so. This post will include a review of the final months of 2018 into January along with what we can expect as we move into February. We’re in a neutral ENSO pattern – meaning no El Nino or La Nina is in place. It looks like we may enter a weak El Nino later this year, but for now, neither phase has developed.
Let’s start off by looking at the last six months. With the exception of far West Texas, we’ve seen average to above-average precipitation totals across the entire state. That includes several heavy rainfall events and flood episodes.
Narrowing down to the last thirty days, or the start of 2019, one can see that the western half of Texas was abnormally dry. With the exception of a few minor snow events, which translate into little liquid-equivalent rain, January ended up in the 10%-75% of normal rain category. West Texas, including Lubbock, hardly saw a drop of rain in January. Cool temperatures along with the time of year prevented any sort of drought development, but there has been an uptick in the risk of wildland fires. The eastern half of Texas received their usual amount of rain in January. Those in the Brazos Valley ended up being a bit above average in the rainfall department last month.
Truthfully I’m not accustomed to sharing such an empty drought monitor map. Take a look at our blog archives if you want to see just how bad this map can get. We’re blessed that only 1.15% of Texas is in an official drought designation. That figure was cut in half compared to last week’s update. Moderate drought covers a small portion for the Texas Panhandle along with a portion of Culberson and Starr counties. Abnormally dry conditions surround those small drought regions. Everyone else in Texas is not included in any sort of dry/drought designation.
Taking a look at what we can expect for the first two weeks of February
Meteorologists at the Climate Prediction Center have highlighted above-average chances of precipitation across all of Texas for the coming two weeks. This means it looks like we’re going to be heading back into a wet pattern, unlike what we saw for the final two weeks of January. Indeed, medium to long range weather model guidance indicates a more active weather pattern for the southern United States developing in the second half of the coming week and onward.
At the same time, we also have an increased probability of experiencing below-average temperatures beginning Wednesday of next week through the second week of February. That does not mean we’re going to be cold the entire time period or that we won’t have warmer weather. It does mean that February is looking more like an active winter month versus this past January in terms of more frequent cold fronts and precipitation events.
Could a wetter/colder February mean we end up actually seeing some winter mischief? Perhaps, if precipitation can line up with the cold air intrusions. That’s a discussion for another post. At the minimum, it does not look like we’ll see any new drought materialize this month.