Drought Fix in Our Future? El Nino Watch Issued!

The National Oceanigraphic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees the National Weather Service (NWS) that produces the forecasts for Texoma via it's individual district offices.  And NOAA answers to the United States Department of Commerce.  But NOAA has many responsibilities and one of those is monitoring and producing long term weather forecasts for the United States.  These long term forecasts can be anywhere from one week to 15 months into the future.  In addition NOAA monitors the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean.  And, small  changes in the average temperature of the Pacific Ocean create wild and  fluctuating weather conditions around the planet.

Many times during the  calender year NOAA will issue current condition updates and future forecasts for  the Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature (SST).  The changes in the SST  are referred to as the "ENSO" or "El Nino/Southern Oscillation."  This is  when the average SST goes up a few degrees or down a few degrees.  This  creates either a La Nina (which means 'the girl' in Spanish) or an El Nino  (which means 'the boy' in Spanish).

During the years 2010-2012 the  Pacific Ocean temperatures cooled by 1-3 degrees Celsius which is known as a La  Nina.  This pattern greatly alters global weather patterns as well.   For Texoma specifically it creates generally very hot and very dry  conditions.  This pattern contributed to the beginning of the drought in  Texoma at the beginning of the decade.

In the year 2013 to early 2014 the  temperature of the Pacific Ocean has been what scientists at NOAA consider  'normal' also know as 'ENSO neutral.'  This created 'normal' weather in  Texoma.  But even during these years the temperatures were slightly above  normal and the precipitation was below normal.  It wasn't nearly as dry as  2010-2012 but having an extreme deficit from those years and then small deficits  from 2013 and 2014 just exacerbates the problem.  Factor in warmer than  normal temperatures and what rain falls is quickly evaporated due to those  temperatures.

But this news of an El Nino Watch is exactly what Texoma  needs.  If a La Nina brings very hot and very dry conditions an El Nino  brings the exact opposite to Texoma.  An El Nino brings cooler than normal  temperatures and wetter than normal precipitation. 

Therefore we  have been put on notice that there is a 50% chance that we will be in an El Nino  weather pattern in the autumn and winter of 2014-2015.  This would bring  cooler temperatures, which would greatly reduce the evaporation of  precipitation.  And, it would bring above normal rainfall and  snowfall.  This would help saturate the soil and then create runoff of  water into the watershed and eventually into producer/ranchers stock tanks and  our area lakes.  This would help replenish the water supply and hopefully  help us to move away from the water restrictions and Drought  Emergency.

However, not all the news is good.  The chance of an  actual El Nino taking place is only 50%.  That means there is also a 50%  chance of another neutral year or even another La Nina.  Another neutral  year or La Nina year would just make the drought in Texoma worse.

At this  point all we can do is wait, pray and hope that the El Nino will come to pass  this fall and winter.

KFDX Meteorologist Bryan Rupp

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