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Livestock Wx for Jan. 26, 2018: La Niña could be peaking but the damage has been done.
There is an exchange in Elmer Kelton’s book, Wagontongue, between two characters that reads.
“A man who don’t take advantage of circumstances is goin’ to find himself took advantage of. I’ve had to wear the left boot on my right foot more than once, and no[one]……ever wept tears over me.”
Drought always seems to be right around the corner in Texas and Oklahoma, and while I hope we can all take advantage when times are good, it certainly feels like we are indeed wearing our boots on the wrong foot with a drought that has settled in and intensifying over the last several weeks. If these conditions remain, there will be very little moisture left in the plants and soil to evaporate, which could lead to a much more extreme situation where the drought becomes self-reinforcing similar to what occurred in 2011.
As we know, in September, a weak La Niña developed in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and has led to a mostly warm and dry weather pattern in the southern tier of the U.S. We have been watching the upper-ocean heat anomalies (which supports the La Niña), and they have been steadily decreasing in intensity since late October. It is possible that this could foretell a slow decrease in La Niña strength over the next few months.
Most climate models continue to forecast La Niña into the spring before returning to neutral conditions by summer. Keep in mind that La Niña events tend to reach their maximum strength during October – February and it’s possible that we could be near the maximum intensity of this event.
However, the damage has been done. One example is the winter wheat crop. The below image shows major winter wheat growing areas along with observed precipitation since October. Many observing stations are reporting an inch or less of moisture.
The other concern is the threat of wildfire. Many saw the large fires earlier in the week, west of Fort Worth in Parker County. We have been tracking evaporative demand since October over the Southern Plains. Dry air has been persistent, particularly for the TX-OK Panhandle and Far West Texas, and to a lesser extent over North Texas and southeast Oklahoma. High evaporative demand increases the rate at which plants and soils dry out and could lead to enhanced fire-weather potential. For now, stay on your toes out there!
Dry Weather To Continue
Little significant rainfall is expected over much of the region for the next week. The below image shows the current U.S. Drought Monitor that was released on Jan. 25, with the rainfall potential over the next seven days. Eastern Oklahoma and parts of East Texas could receive 1/2 to 1 inch of rain, but otherwise, the region looks dry. Almost 100 percent of Oklahoma is now considered in drought (D1-D4) with the only holdouts being Bryan and Marshall Counties; while almost 50 percent of Texas is now considered in drought.
Temperature Swings Immediately Ahead!
Chilly temperatures will be replaced by significantly-milder-than-normal weather this upcoming weekend. Readings could average 5 to 15 degrees above normal by Sunday! However, cold weather looks like it will be coming in early February. The image below shows the NOAA GFS 10-day temperature anomaly forecast and you can see the wide swing from this weekend to later next week.
That’s it for this week. If you have any questions about conditions around Texas and Oklahoma please contact us at [email protected]