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Southern Plains Drought

100 days without rain: no sign of Texas drought relief


Ross Giarratana
Meteorologist

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 11:54 - Below-average precipitation in the panhandle region of Texas and Oklahoma is currently causing the worst drought conditions in the Contiguous United States with much of the region experiencing severe drought and even several pockets of extreme drought.

According to a recent drought summary report from The National Drought Mitigation Center in Omaha, Nebraska, there have been widespread reports of very dry soils, poor winter wheat stands, and low stock ponds. In addition, there are reports of complete dryness in soils down to as low as 4 feet below the soil surface

To put things into perspective - the last time Amarillo, Texas has recorded anything greater than a trace of precipitation occurred on October 13, 2017. On this date, Amarillo received one-hundredth of an inch of rain; just barely reaching the threshold to be considered "measurable" precipitation. 



However, October was not all bad news in terms of precipitation. In fact, the month was off with an active start in Amarillo with a multi-day period of wet weather which occurred October 3rd through October 6th. During this period, 2.14 inches of rain was recorded which allowed the city to finish the month of October with above-normal rainfall. By the end of October, 2.20 inches of rainfall was recorded which surpassed the monthly average of 1.65 inches.


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While October may have finished with above-average rainfall in the city of Amarillo, things have been exceptionally dry since mid-October across the entire Panhandle region of Texas and Oklahoma with most areas recording nothing more than a trace of precipitation during this time period. With such dry weather recently and less than favorable agricultural conditions in the region, many are wondering if needed moisture will return to the area in the near future.

A Look Ahead: 'Glimmer of Hope'

Unfortunately for those patiently waiting for the next round of precipitation, weather forecast models are indicating that the outlook looks bleak for any notable precipitation through the next seven days and possibly throughout the remainder of the winter season. 

Click play to watch below: Systems to watch



According to the latest three-month outlook precipitation forecast from Climate Prediction Center, there is a forty percent chance that February, March, and April will feature below average precipitation in the Panhandle region of Texas and Oklahoma. This will bring the possibility of the current drought persisting well into the start of Spring and possibly reaching higher levels of concern if precipitation chances continue to look grim. 

Click play to watch below: Rainfall forecast



There is, however, at least one glimmer of hope for some moisture in the long-term forecast during the first couple of days of February next week. By Thursday, February 1st, weather forecast models are currently indicating that a strong cold front will track across the southern Plains bringing a sharp temperature drop and possibly some beneficial precipitation. 

Click play to watch below: Snowfall forecast



Periods of rain and snow showers will be possible along and ahead of the cold front as this feature swings through, but it is too early to say exactly how much, if any, precipitation will occur during this time period. Thus, the meteorology team here at The Weather Network will be watching for trends in the models in the days ahead so stay with us for further updates as we get closer to the beginning days of February.


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