Recent rainy weather improved soil moisture conditions for many wheat and cool-season forage producers, but most of Texas remains below normal rainfall, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service experts.
John Nielsen-Gammon, Ph.D., state climatologist in the Texas A&M College of Arts and Sciences Department of Atmospheric Sciences, said parts of the state received beneficial rainfall over the past week and that cooler temperatures will help soils retain the moisture.
“The Thanksgiving weekend was a lucky shot,” he said. “As late as Tuesday, the computer models were saying that the storm could move through quickly and miss us, could stall in an ideal spot, or slide south. It ended up stalling in an ideal spot, producing a broad swath of precipitation across the middle of the state.”
Midland to San Angelo, Corpus Christi, McAllen and northeastern areas of the state received good rains that should provide decent soil moisture for the rest of the year, Nielsen-Gammon said. The largest totals for the week were in southeastern Texas.
Port Arthur received 5.95 inches and Baytown 5.43 inches. Elsewhere in the state, Carthage in northeast Texas recorded 5.06 inches, Santa Anna recorded 4.1 inches, and several stations near Brownsville recorded 3-4 inches.
But the outlook for the rest of the winter is dry, he said. There is around a two-out-of-three chance of below-normal rainfall for December through March, with the worst odds of receiving rainfall toward the southern and western parts of the state.
Temperatures will also be above normal most of the time, but there will be cold air farther north waiting to blow into the state occasionally, he said. The effect of La Niña tends to wear off by April or so, but more importantly, La Niña itself will probably dissipate by then.
“It’s about time; this is the third La Niña winter in a row,” he said. “It’s time to be hopeful that the pendulum will swing in the other direction so that an El Niño might develop over the summer and tilt the odds in favor of a wet winter next time around.”
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