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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