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Livestock Wx for Jan. 26, 2018: Phil’s Forecast
Happy Groundhog Day everyone. Today Phil saw his shadow and I guess that means we are in for six more weeks of winter. Phil’s track record at predicting winter, however, is not exactly stellar. In the past 10 years, he has been right about 50 percent of the time. In some cases, though, that might actually beat some seasonal weather forecasters so we should give some credit to Phil. It’s not easy making good forecasts!
January Precipitation Deficits
While it’s finally February we must, unfortunately, take a look at the January precipitation deficits… and it’s as bad as you probably thought. The below map shows the 30-day percent of normal precipitation. Large areas of Oklahoma and Texas observed 10 percent or less of what would normally be expected in January. In case anyone is keeping track of the number of days without measurable precipitation, the gauges at Woodward and Lavern, Oklahoma turned 122 today. That’s 122 days without a hundredth of an inch or more of moisture.
Average temperatures, on the other hand, have been mostly cool for the month ranging from 1 to 7 degrees below normal.
Drought Marches On
In this week’s Drought Monitor (see image below) approximately 20 and 80 percent of Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, are in Severe Drought or greater. The 7-day rainfall forecast (also shown below with the Drought Monitor) shows parts of the region could see 0.1” or more of rainfall, however, the areas that need it the most are expected to see only minor amounts. We also see evaporative demand (shown with the Drought Outlook below) over the last couple of weeks has been above-normal in the hardest hit areas, which tells us that in addition to not much precipitation coming in, more moisture is leaving via the plants and soil from evapotranspiration.
NOAA’s latest seasonal drought outlook (shown below) calls for drought to persist or even expand across much of Texas and the Southwest U.S. through April. We would agree with NOAA’s assessment, and think the high evaporative demand and the extreme precipitation deficits are digging a hole that will be very difficult to climb out of when spring and summer arrive.
In the 8-14 range, forecasts are showing large parts of Texas and Oklahoma could see some precipitation but it looks like the line will be around I-20 and extend south leaving the worst areas in the Panhandle and Rolling Plains dry. The North American Multi-Model Ensemble forecast shows the odds are tilting to a dry scenario for the month of February as a whole.
That’s it for this week. We will be back next week and will provide an update on the drought and the latest forecasts. If you have any questions about conditions around Texas and Oklahoma please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.