June 1, 2016
by Historical Climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss & Climatological Analyst James J. Garriss
May came and with it, once again, floods hit Texas. The Lone Star State is always grateful for good rains – but this was ridiculous!
Last year saw the same problem – Texas had enough flooding rainfall in May to completely end its multi-year drought by early June. The floods were deadly and damaging, but the after effect was a blessing for the state’s farms, ranches and reservoirs.
The reason the state had so much rainfall was El Niño. The giant warming pool in the Pacific that alters tropical rainfall patterns throughout the world. In late spring, history shows the event tends to pour tropical water north toward Texas in an “atmospheric river”. It’s like aiming a giant fire hose towards the state. The results are horrendous for the unprepared, but it leaves the state with excellent water reserves to begin the hot summer.
Texans have been generous – the rain that starts in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. The jet stream caught the moisture and carried it to the north and east. Summer is starting with most of the Great Plains and the Midwest having a surplus water supply – good subsoil moisture for crops and gardens. It’s even been carried to the Mid-Atlantic states – Washington DC is complaining over May’s record-breaking number of gloomy rainy and cloudy days. (Poor politicians and bureaucrats!)
Save the water – El Niño finally faded out in late May. (It may be a few weeks before it is officially declared to be finished.) Most scientists are warning us that it’s cold dry sister La Niña will hit in late summer. For Texas, that means a potential return to drought. The May water surplus will come in handy. – TBB
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