Friday’s forecast for the Dallas Fort Worth area includes a 10% chance of rain. To the west, Midland also faces a 10% chance. Same for Lubbock. Current temperatures in all three cities are in the upper 80’s. Here in the Seattle that would be very good news. A 10% chance of rain would mean that it just might not rain, the way it has nearly every day for the past few months.
In North Texas, a 10% chance of rain is not good enough. May is normally a wet month, and rain has never been more needed than right now. According the U. S. Drought Monitor website (http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html ) a record percentage of Texas is currently under either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions. Cattle ranchers have been forced to sell their herds or move them to other states, grassfires have damaged hundreds of square miles, and crops have shriveled.
Meteorologists say that the drought in Texas and record rainfalls in the Pacific Northwest stem from the same cause, the “La Nina” pattern of warmer than usual Pacific Ocean temperatures which redirect the jet stream from its usual course and cause unusual weather patterns. For Texas though, this has been an unusually severe drought, even for a La Nina year. And it follows a severe drought in 2009. For the moment, Texans are having to learn to live with drought.