March 14, 2016
More Texas-Midwest Floods, by Way of Louisiana
by Historical Climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss & Climatological Analyst James J. Garriss
Poor Louisiana. After 24 inches of rain in early March, even the alligators needed snorkels. A parade of March storms hammered Texas and the Lower Mississippi, threatening 25 million people. While the heaviest rains were in Oklahoma and an 800 mile wedge from Illinois to Southern Texas was put under flood and flash-flood warnings.
West Texans can sympathize. Last December/January, it was their turn to be deluged. After years of drought, Texans are having to combine their cowboy hats with webbed feet. While the heavy rains and snows have brought considerable hardship, they also brought water. If Texas and Southern Plains ranchers and farmers can store the water, they will have enough surplus to supply their crops and livestock through the potentially warm upcoming summer.
Just as a wet West Texas was typical of an El Niño winter, the current March rainfall is typical of an El Niño springtime. In the past, moderate spring El Niños brought good precipitation all three months of the season. However, as in May 2015, some years severely concentrated almost all the rainfall into just a few days of the month, causing major flooding
Notice, the historical maps are seasonal, so that the map for normal March rain and snow averages the weather from February, March and April. It shows an overall pattern that if an El Niño lasts until late April, Texas and most of the Great Plains will have precipitation to give fields and pastures enough rain to be in good shape through early summer. According to most scientists, that is likely. For the Midwest to be in equally good shape, the El Niño needs to be moderate until late May, which is less likely.
Springtime El Niños bring troublesome storms. At the same time, they historically bring much needed rain. Providing the flooding is not too severe, most ranchers and farmers will be willing to cope with the problems of the former for the rewards of the blessed rain. – EBG | JJG
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