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article imageTexas drought likely into 2012 as La Niña re-emerges

By Lynn Herrmann     Aug 6, 2011 in Environment
Dallas - Facing record-setting high temperatures with each passing day, Texas received more bad news this week as reports indicate La Niña will reform in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, suggesting the state's devastating drought is likely to extend well into 2012.
Barring any short-term relief tropical moisture could bring to the state, Texas is now bracing for what could be its worst drought in recorded history. August daytime high temperatures have only compounded the problem of what is already the third-worst recorded drought in the state, with triple-digit readings each day across most of the state.
Most of the state saw little or no rainfall during July, and more than 90 percent of the state is in an extreme (D3) or exceptional (D4, the most severe category) stage of drought.
State Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples noted the severity of the situation, stating: “The suffering and desperate need for relief grows with the rising temperatures and record-breaking heat that continue to scorch Texas with each passing day,” MySA reports.
The US Drought Monitor notes coverage of the state’s pastures and rangelands are in poor to very poor conditions, standing at 93 percent.
Tropical Storm Don, making landfall between Corpus Christi and Brownsville on July 29, turned into a major disappointment, disintegrating upon landfall. With forecasts of one to five inches of rain in the San Antonio area, and isolated pockets of up to seven inches, the storm brought less than an inch of rain to San Antonio International Airport, as well as to most of the land mass it encountered in deep south Texas.
With each passing month, the state continues setting records for driest consecutive months on record. The 10-month period ending in July saw a statewide average of just 9.17 inches of rainfall.
Meanwhile, the Texas heat wave is taking a deadly toll, for humans, wildlife and vegetation alike. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen more than 30 consecutive days with triple digit readings, dating back to July 2, second only to the triple digit heat wave record set from June 23 - August 3, 1980, a 42-day span with 100 degrees or higher temperatures.
In the panhandle, Lubbock went through another record-setting month, with July being its hottest month on record, breaking the previous record set just a month earlier. Prior to that, the old record had stood since July 1966. Early reports indicate July was the warmest month in the recorded history, dating back to 1895.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports at least 13 deaths in Dallas County have been attributed to the current heat wave.
The National Climatic Data Center released its new El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) report this week, noting current conditions will continue into autumn, with La Niña likely to develop at that time, extending into the winter months of 2012.
For Texas, La Niña is bad news, as the Pacific Ocean condition tends to steer Pacific moisture toward the northern US Pacific coast, leaving the southern portion of the US in warmer and drier than normal conditions.
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