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Persistent Drought Still Reigns in Much of Texas

By: Christopher C. Burt , 8:32 PM GMT on April 11, 2014

Persistent Drought Still Reigns in Much of Texas: The case Of Lubbock

Although much attention has (rightly) been focused on the extreme drought in California, it seems that we’ve almost forgotten about how intense and long-lasting the drought has been for much of central and northwestern Texas. This drought developed a long three and half years ago and, in some localities, it is far and away the worst drought on record. That’s the case in Lubbock.

The latest (April 8th) drought monitor for Texas. While the drought situation has improved for far western Texas it remains extreme to exceptional for 27.6% of the state, with the Panhandle and central regions worst affected including Lubbock. NOAA et al.

Since January 1st Lubbock has received just 0.47” of precipitation versus a normal to-date (April 10) of 2.91”. More astonishing is the 32.91” total since October 1, 2010 (normal would be 63.81”). This is not only the driest 3 and a half-year period on record but surpasses the previous record for such by the amazing margin of 8.28”. The average annual precipitation for Lubbock (POR 1981-2010) is 19.12”.

Driest 42-month periods on record for Lubbock, Texas (since 1911). The previous driest such period (aside from this year) was that ending on April 30, 1955 when a total of 41.19” was measured versus the current 32.91”. Note that the great Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s ranks in third place with a 42-month total of 42.41” ending on April 30, 1936. Table from NWS-Lubbock.

The persistence of the drought in Lubbock can be seen in this monthly drought monitor graphic (it chart begins in January 2000) which shows that the city has been in a severe to exceptional drought situation since early 2011, more than three years. Graphic from NWS-Lubbock.

As a consequence of the prolonged drought, dust storms have become regular occurences for Lubbock and other drought-stricken regions of western and central Texas. There have been nine significant such events in Lubbock since the beginning of this year.

A massive dust storm looms over Lubbock’s Texas Tech’s football stadium at Jones AT&T Stadium. This event occurred last October. Photo by Scott Lacefield.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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8. ColoradoBob1
4:47 PM GMT on April 22, 2014
Wichita Falls looks for other sources of water

Wichita Falls is still waiting for state approval to begin tapping its supply of treated wastewater, but this city 100 miles northwest of Fort Worth is already thinking about what comes next.

If it gets approval to recapture and recycle 5 million gallons of effluent, Wichita Falls believes the city will have about a two year supply of water if the drought doesn’t let up.

So that is forcing this city of 104,000 to study where it would go for water if the lake levels at its three reservoirs — Lake Arrowhead, Lake Kickapoo and Lake Kemp — keep dropping. The lakes are close to plummeting to a combined capacity of 25 percent, which will prompt the city to declare a drought catastrophe and impose Stage 5 water restrictions.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. ColoradoBob1
3:58 PM GMT on April 22, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY —Without a doubt, Oklahoma City is off to a dry start for the year so far with only 2.26 inches of rain. During an average year, Oklahoma City will receive 36.52 inches with the wettest year, 2007, having 56.95 inches.

The driest year on record for Oklahoma City was 1901, when only 15.74 inches of rain was recorded. What is interesting is that this year is starting off drier than 1901 did. To the day, 1901 had measured 2.74 inches, whereas for 2014, there has been only 2.26 inches.

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6. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:45 PM GMT on April 15, 2014
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
5. JimLongIsland
5:17 PM GMT on April 15, 2014
I was wondering if iPersistent in the headline is a new Apple device??
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4. centex99
12:46 PM GMT on April 15, 2014
Just east of Brownwood, Texas we have had a similar .5 inches of rain since Jan. 1, 2014. Some nearby locations have had slightly higher rainfall.
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3. rod2635
9:28 AM GMT on April 15, 2014
Is the section of the site with the map still reporting daily records, ie high max, lo min etc?. I have not been able to see any new data there since February and surely some records have been set. Something I may be doing wrong? Really like that feature.
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2. jimmosk
2:58 AM GMT on April 15, 2014
Was this drought sponsored by Apple, or do you have a typo right in the article's title?
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1. ColoradoBob1
4:34 PM GMT on April 13, 2014
48 Texas cities facing water shortages.

1 in 4 cities are near Lubbock.

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.

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