State climatologist updates Texas' drought situation

Texas remains in second-worst drought in recorded history


SAN ANTONIO – Recent rains have kept the menacing drought out of the headlines, but as a whole, the state of Texas is still very much within its grips.

Few people know more about the numbers and trends than Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, a state climatologist.

"I don't think any place is going to run out of water," said Nielsen-Gammon at a recent meeting about Hill County water issues.

Despite some cities coming close, Texas' water-starved future is, perhaps, not as dire as some might think.

"This current drought cycle we're in, we're more than halfway through based on past historical examples of it," said Nielsen-Gammon.

Planning -- such as San Antonio Water System's desalination plant and water restrictions -- are more likely preparing Texans for droughts decades down the road.

Still, according to Nielsen-Gammon, numbers show that this remains the second worst drought on record, with the dry stretch in the 1950s still firmly holding the top spot. He also noted that drought is not the only culprit behind Texas' declining rivers and lakes.

"The biggest driver is population, but weather and climate ranks second on that big list," said Nielsen-Gammon.

The latest drought monitor for Texas still showed more than half the state within a "drought" designation, with parts of South Central Texas in the "extreme" category.

Meanwhile, Nielsen-Gammon pointed out that the Atlantic Hurricane season did little to help Texas this year, but that changes over the Pacific Ocean may provide for some encouraging news.

"We got El Nino-type conditions present, even though it's not official, so that tilts the odds in favor of a wetter than normal winter," he said.

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