Rain in the Plains Y'all
May 22, 2015
It’s about time! For the first time in 3 years, Texas no longer has any part of the state in extreme or exceptional drought. Congratulations!
Rain – it’s a beautiful thing! Source: NOAA
Indeed, no place east of Utah’s Great Salt Lake is in the most severe category of drought. This is a delightful change for ranchers and farmers. It is also a sign of things to come.
El Niño, the warm pool of water in the Tropical Pacific has grown and by May 1 was in a classic configuration. This meant that it did what classic El Niños do – bring lovely rain to the Great Plains and large sections of the Midwest. The event is showing no signs of changing soon, which means timely rains for the end of spring and early summer. Indeed, for Texas and Oklahoma, there may be areas with too much rainfall and flooding, a problem that is hard to remember.
Overall Drought vs. Short-term Drought – some areas with good surface conditions still have some long-term problems and visa-versa, Source: NOAA
This doesn’t mean that the drought is gone, indeed 2.7 million Texans are still living in areas still officially in drought conditions. What is gone is severe drought and, for most of the Central and Southern Plains, short-term drought. Conditions are good for topsoil, pastures and crop establishment, but not necessarily for the still low reservoirs. Conditions are currently good, but not all areas have completely healed from the years of dry weather.
Indeed, as rain is pouring into the parched Plains, northern and eastern parts of the Midwest and large portions of the East are experiencing short-term dry spells. This fits with the El Niño’s historical pattern of frequently producing rainfall concerns while ultimately providing enough water for good grain and oilseed yields.
Notice, west of the Rockies is still intensely dry. Don’t expect California to produce alfalfa or any other crop with a low profit margin. Don’t expect a summertime El Niño event to produce drought breaking rains during the West Coast’s dry season.
Meanwhile, cattle country is basking in rainfall. Enjoy!