Sunday, December 30, 2012

Drought continues in Texas Panhandle; condition improving, experts say

Mollie Bryant in the Amarillo Globe-News (Texas): The Texas Panhandle is still in the grip of severe drought conditions, but this year’s temperatures and precipitation rates suggest that conditions are improving, meteorologists said.

About 60 percent of the continental United States is experiencing drought, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor’s report released Thursday, but the Texas Panhandle is no stranger to hot, dry weather after going through the worst drought in state history during 2011. The drought took a toll on local water resources, and in October 2011, the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority voted to no longer use water from Lake Meredith, which reached a record low of about 28.6 feet last week according to the authority’s website.

Although this year’s weather has been less extreme, temperatures were still above average and precipitation was below average, National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Moulton said. Amarillo has had about 12 inches of precipitation so far this year, and although that falls short of our average annual precipitation of 20 inches, it’s still a vast improvement from last year, a record low of about 7 inches, Moulton said.

Right now, weather patterns are stuck are in a neutral phase between El Nino and La Nina, he said. Both weather phenomenons result from sea surface temperatures, but they create opposite weather patterns. La Nina creates warm, dry conditions in the Texas Panhandle while an El Nino is characterized by increased rainfall. ...

Dorothea Lange called this 1938 shot "Tractored out"; Power farming displaces tenants from the land in the western dry cotton area. Childress County, Texas,

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