Ugh. I hate writing about the drought.
A few years ago, a state climatologist told me that part of him hated to speak to at ag meetings because “It seems like I only get invited when I have bad news.” As someone who does outreach work surrounding agriculture, climate change and extreme weather, I can relate to the feeling.
I am writing this blog during the last week of March/first week of April. As of right now (according to the drought monitor) the vast majority of the Southern Plains is in the grip of some level of drought. Some areas are better off than others, but most of the region is dealing with a moderate to extreme dry conditions.
The good news is that we have gotten some rain recently that should improve the outlook some when the new drought monitor map comes out. The bad news is that this rain is nowhere near enough to make up for some of the moisture deficits we are seeing throughout the region (Gary McManus, the Oklahoma State Climatologist, spoke more about this and other weather-related topics with the Oklahoma Farm Report this week-you can check his comments out here). On top of that, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is saying that there is a chance we could be in for a third La Nina year in a row, which sets us up for even more above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation (although the jury is still out on that-you can check out a news story on this outlook here).
Blech……this is not what you want to hear and not what I want to write about, but there it is.
Hopefully we will see some wide-spread relief as we move into the mid-April through June time period. This typically is the wettest time of year for most of the region and if we see normal to above normal precipitation levels, we hopefully will avoid an extended drought period. That said, many in the weather business are sounding the alarm that this might not be the case.
Earlier this month we recorded a podcast episode with Victor Murphy with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas. During this episode, Victor expressed his concern that we could be in for a period of below normal precipitation during these critical months. That, combined with above normal temperatures (and already dry conditions) could create a real mess as we move into the summer and fall.
Obviously, nothing is certain when it comes to weather (especially around here) and things can change quickly. Still, it might behoove all of us to take a little time and review our drought plans…or at least give a little thought to what we will do if these dry times do deepen and extend out through the rest of the year. As we have mentioned before, there are some great resources out there to help plan for drought -we wrote about some ideas here and we have helpful links to recommendations from NRCS, the Noble Research Foundation and Oklahoma State University in a past blog that you can find here.
We could be in for a dry spell, or a flood. Either way, it pays to be prepared.