Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

California drought similar to historic drought in Texas

Date:
February 10, 2014
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
The worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 drought that devastated Texas, says a Texas A&M University professor.

Mojave Desert, California. The worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 drought that devastated Texas
Credit: © Tomasz Zajda / Fotolia

The worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 drought that devastated Texas, says a Texas A&M University professor.

John Nielsen-Gammon, professor of atmospheric sciences who also serves as Texas' State Climatologist, says the current drought in California is so far comparable in many ways to the 2011 Texas drought, the worst one-year drought in the state's history that caused more than $10 billion in damages and led to numerous wildfires and lake closings.

"This is the third year of California's drought and it is on pace to be as dry as Texas was in 2011," Nielsen-Gammon, a California native who grew up in the San Francisco area, explains.

"However, because our severe drought year came at the beginning of the drought, reservoirs across much of the state were full. In California, reservoir levels were low to begin with.

"In addition, they are dealing with environmental flows through the Sacramento Delta that weren't explicitly laid out until a few years ago."

Weather patterns for both states appear similar, he adds.

"The same ridge that has kept California dry has also been keeping Texas dry," he notes. "As the pattern changes, California is finally getting some rain and snow and the chances for precipitation in Texas are increasing as well."

California's drought is especially worrisome because the state produces about one-half of the country's fruits, vegetables and nuts. It is the No.1 agricultural state in the U.S.

The 2011 drought devastated Texas farmers and ranchers, and lake levels were down as much as 50 feet in some lakes while several West Texas lakes completely dried up.

Numerous Texas cities set heat records in 2011, such as Wichita Falls, which recorded 100 days of 100-degree heat, the most ever for that city. Dallas also set a record with 70 days of 100-degree heat.

Texas' drought is now in its fourth year, Nielsen-Gammon says, and about 52 percent of Texas is still in some form of drought status, ranging from moderate to exceptionally dry.

"January was unusually dry with an average of only about one-half an inch of precipitation statewide," he adds.

"Reservoir levels have actually declined at a time when they should be rising. So the drought is still here. In fact, the prevalence of drought in Texas has not dropped below 40 percent since 2010 when this drought first started."

The Texas Panhandle area has been especially hard hit.

"The past three calendar years have been among the driest three on record for the Panhandle," he notes. "Dalhart shattered its record with just 20.54 inches total in 2011-2013.

"This current drought started with more intensity than the drought of 1950-56, the driest on record. We again have a generally warm Atlantic Ocean, and that tends to mean dry conditions. An El Nino (warmer water in the tropical Pacific Ocean) might develop later this year, but it's still a little too early to say."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "California drought similar to historic drought in Texas." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210161236.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2014, February 10). California drought similar to historic drought in Texas. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210161236.htm
Texas A&M University. "California drought similar to historic drought in Texas." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210161236.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) — Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins