The Texas drought ends; climate alarmists wrong again!

Summary: The climate alarmists described the Texas drought in extreme terms, as the New Normal. Readers of the FM website saw the other side of the news — the science side — in Key facts about the drought that’s reshaping Texas. Now we see what looks like the end of the story. It’s a pleasant ending for everybody — excerpt for the alarmists (wrong, again).  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Southern Drought Animated, 21 May 2015

Texas was so over

Here are a few typical remarks about the Texas drought; red emphasis added.

John Nielsen-Gammon (Texas state climatologist and prof atmospheric sciences, Texas A&M): “This drought has almost singlehandedly put an end to the trend of reduced drought frequency and intensity that Texas had been experiencing. … The [continuing] drought of 2011–20xx has taught us something we didn’t know: Rather than being a thing of the past, Texas drought can be worse than we imagined.”  {Texas Climate News, 12 October 2013}

Texas Climate News sought out the state’s finest climatologists, oceanographers and public-policy experts. If nothing else, their responses make clear that the Lone Star State is headed for a new normal. Pretending it isn’t happening is not a viable option.”  {Dallas Observer, 14 October 2013}

Fear in a Handful Of Dust” by Ted Genoways, The New Republic: “Climate change is making the Texas panhandle, birthplace of the state’s iconic Longhorn, too hot and dry to raise beef. … environmental activists and reporters began to ask whether “drought” — a temporary weather pattern — was really the right term for what was happening in the state, or whether “desertification” was more appropriate. … ‘If climate change is the real deal then the human race as we know it is over’.

Texas Seal

 That was then. This is now.

On 22 May 2015 the Washington Post headlined that “Texas prayed for drought-busting rain four years ago. It finally came.”  Climate Central explains in detail…

“I think the Texas drought is pretty much all but over,” Victor Murphy, climate services program manager for the National Weather Service’s Southern Region, said during a press teleconference.

… The drought that hit Texas and Oklahoma began in 2010 with months upon months of hot, dry weather. It reached its nadir in 2011 when the entire area of both states was mired in drought. In October of that year, nearly three quarters of Texas and 60 percent of Oklahoma was in exceptional drought, the worst category recognized by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Both states have seen fits and starts of improvement since that low point, but it is the rains over the past few weeks that have sounded the drought’s death knell. Most areas of Texas have seen more than 200% of their normal precipitation over the past 60 days, recharging reservoirs and bringing moisture back into baked soils. The rains brought more than 3 trillion gallons of water into Texas reservoirs, Murphy said, most of which are nearly completely full, though some are still struggling.

The scientists were right. This is good news for Texas! But they’re still draining their aquifers. Eventually they’ll run dry and American agriculture will change.


(a) Visualized: How the insane amount of rain in Texas could turn Rhode Island into a lake” by the WonkBlog of the Washington Post, 27 May 2015 — Excerpt…

It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the flooding that’s hit Texas recently. The Memorial Day weekend of heavy rain has capped off a month where some areas of the state have seen more than 20 inches of rain fall. More rain is in the forecast.

It’s difficult to comprehend the ridiculous amounts of water that have fallen in such a short time in a state that, until recently, had been in the grip of a historic drought. But one place to start would be to look at reservoir levels in the state. In the past 30 days, Texas reservoirs have gone from being 73% full to 82% full, according to data maintained by the Texas Water Development board.

(b)  The drought was climate change. The rains are climate change. Business as usual for the alarmists. A typical example: “Texas Was In a Horrible Drought Last Year. Now It’s Flooded. What Gives?“.

(c)  More slowly than the knew-jerks of alarmists, climate scientists describe these events. Like this from NASA: “El Niño at Play as Source of More Intense Regional U.S. Wintertime Storms“. It makes only one reference to climate change…

Schubert cautions against directly linking a particular heavy storm event to El Niño with absolute certainty. “This study is really about the causes for the changes in probability that you’ll have stronger storms, not about the causes of individual storms,” he said. For that matter, Schubert also discourages linking a particularly intense storm to global warming with complete certainty.

For More Information

See the 1993 classic book forecasting our present problems Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water. For a down to earth look at climate change see The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton (1973), a novel describing the 1905s drought that re-shaped Texas as crops shriveled and livestock died.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See these Reference Pages for other posts about climate on the FM sites:  The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change. Also, see these posts about droughts:

  1. RecommendedKey facts about the drought that’s reshaping California.
  2. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?
  3. Let’s prepare for past climate instead of bickering about predictions of climate change.
  4. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?
  5. Our response to California’s drought shows America at work to enrich the 1%.
  6. Recommended: Key facts about the drought that’s reshaping Texas.

The Hydro-Illogical Cycle

From the SPEI website

The Hydro-illogical cycle
From the SPEI website

25 thoughts on “The Texas drought ends; climate alarmists wrong again!”

    1. Translation: I can not dispute the Article with a cogent counterpoint, therefore call people names instead.

  1. The problem is the major driver of climate (not just Texas), the ocean, is rising in temperature. The prediction by the experts is hotter and dryer in the long term. Short term local weather is almost irrelevant if one looks ahead.

    1. Bob,

      Can you show us your source for your beliefs? The most recent IPCC report, AR5, is quite equivocal about incidence and frequency of future droughts. A warmer world puts more water vapor into the atmosphere, increasingly precipitation. Regional climate changes are beyond the state of the art to predict reliably using today’s models. From AR5’s Working Group I, Chapter 11 — “Near-term Climate Change: Projections and Predictability“:

      Because the variability of the atmospheric moisture storage is negligible, global mean increases in evaporation are required to balance increases in precipitation in response to anthropogenic forcing (Meehl et al., 2007a; Trenberth et al., 2007; Bates et al., 2008; Lu and M. Cai, 2009). The global atmospheric water content is constrained by the Clausius–Clapeyron equation to increase at around 7% K–1; however, both the global precipitation and evaporation in global warming simulations increase at 1 to 3% K–1 (Lambert and Webb, 2008; Lu and M.Cai, 2009).

      … although several studies project drought increases in the near term future (Sheffield and Wood, 2008; Dai, 2011), the assement is debated in the literature based on discrepancies in the recent past and due to natural variability (Seneviratne et al., 2012; Sheffield et al., 2012).

    2. And, pray tell, what drives the oceanic cycles? Could it be the sun? Is the sun moving into a period of activity or inactivity?

      If short term weather is unimportant then why did we make a stink about a drought?

      1. Duke,

        (1) “And, pray tell, what drives the oceanic cycles?”

        I don’t believe there is a consensus about that. Although research on ENSO-Nino-Nina cycles goes back a century, and the first modern attempt at prediction to 1974, little quantitative work could be done until satellites provided accurate global data about the surface and atmosphere in 1979 — and the ARGO floats provided oceanic data ~2004. Scientists need long baselines of data upon which to develop good theories. Large-scale ocean-wind cycles are a frontier.

        (2) “Could it be the sun? Is the sun moving into a period of activity or inactivity?”

        Again, that’s a frontier. Scientists are still developing useful long-term data — such as the new revision of the sunspot data, and paeloclimate indices of solar activity.

        (3) “If short term weather is unimportant then why did we make a stink about a drought?”

        You’re kidding, right? Weather is really important.

    3. Bob S. writes: “Short term local weather is almost irrelevant if one looks ahead.”

      If true who do so many warmists whine about a record high so much? They are all over an early heat wave in Alaska trumpeting that it is proof of global warming. I consider that silly since the world has been in a THREE month cooling trend as per UAH satellite data:
      2015 1 +0.261 +0.379 +0.143 +0.119
      2015 2 +0.157 +0.263 +0.050 -0.074
      2015 3 +0.139 +0.232 +0.046 +0.022
      2015 4 +0.065 +0.154 -0.024 +0.074

      It has also been zero to a slight cooling so far this century:

      Wailing about a record high does not establish anything in particular about global warming, as there were many record highs occurring the 1970’s when it was undeniably a global cooling. It is indicative of the narrow mindedness of the warmist who ignores widespread record cold in Canada and America last winter,since it goes against a cult based paradigm, that CO2 is a villain, that must be promoted at all cost.

      Looking ahead to year 2100 and 3100 based on a bunch of UNVERIFIED climate models, that lack adequate forecast skill to be confident on is established junk science. I suggest that you read the Scientific Method again to see why long into the future modeling guesses is evidence of pseudoscience.

      Bob,also writes this: “The prediction by the experts is hotter and dryer in the long term.”

      How can they be experts when they make unsupported guesses using unverified climate models that have no demonstrated forecast skill to draw from?

      The few short term modeling guesses have been utter failures as shown vividly below:

      From the IPCC is this SPECIFIC projection, based on the AGW hypothesis, that it is going to warm up a lot the first two decades of this century:

      “For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.”

      This means at least .40C warming should have been noticed

      But the temperature chart says the very opposite with just 4+ years left, from a ZERO to a slight cooling trend.:

      Why are you still hanging onto a long dead AGW conjecture?

    1. handjive,

      Thanks for the reminder! I remember the alarmists in 2009-11 saying the drought was a “new normal” for Australia. Just ask Hurricane Katrina marked a “new normal” of more and stronger hurricanes hitting America. It’s a dishonest but effected method of scaring people — until it repeatedly fails. As it has for the climate alarmists so far.

    2. Update!

      “Deficiencies also persist at a range of even longer timescales. For the 36-month (three-year) period rainfall deficiencies remain in similar, but somewhat more extensive, areas to those affected at the 31-month timescale.”

      “Broken Hill’s reserves were down to about 4 per cent and the NSW government received forecasts that the town would be “without water by the end of the year”, Water Minister Niall Blair said.

      “It is quite a dire situation.”

      “The bureau also released its latest seasonal stream flow forecast on Wednesday, noting that low flows were likely in the May to July period for 34 of 84 locations where prediction skill “is acceptable”.

      Soil moisture is below average, so less rain will make it into waterways when it falls.

      National Water Commission axed

      Meanwhile, the Abbott government secured enough crossbench support in the Senate to abolish the National Water Commission, prompting criticism.”

      1. Bob,

        The accompanying map on that page (below; click to enlarge) shows only small areas still with serious or worse rainfall deficiencies — which is the bottom line.

        As the BOM says, Australia is a large area with many different climate areas (and a tendency to droughts), so that a few small areas in drought is probably common. The 31 month numbers will of course only slowly respond to rising rainfall, and hence are not a sensitive indicator of the current trend.


        Australia : 10 months through 30 April 2015

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  3. But you thanked handjjive for his post without question, of a 2012 article declaring the Australian drought over, when it wasn’t according to this later article (which you did question).

    “Thanks for the reminder! I remember the alarmists in 2009-11 saying the drought was a “new normal” for Australia. Just ask Hurricane Katrina marked a “new normal” of more and stronger hurricanes hitting America. It’s a dishonest but effected method of scaring people — until it repeatedly fails. As it has for the climate alarmists so far.”

    Loks to me like the “new normal” for Australia may just be normal, but the time frame is still in dog years. Humans seem to live in dog years though, short memories, etc.

    Most of Australia is already dry, so to call a drought in those areas would be redundant. The drought map in my post covers mostly populated areas where precipitation is historically higher than the interior dry areas.

    Here is a rainfall average map,

    1. Bob,

      (1) “Loks to me like the “new normal” for Australia may just be normal, but the time frame is still in dog years.”

      That makes no sense at all to me.

      (2) ‘when it wasn’t according to this later article ”

      The 6 May 2015 Drought Statement does not say that the drought wasn’t over, or anything remotely like that. See the map of areas with 10 month “serious” or worse rainfall deficiencies: small, scattered.

      (3) “Most of Australia is already dry, so to call a drought in those areas would be redundant.”

      No. A drought is a long period of unusually low rainfall vs the average for that area. Deserts are not described as in permanent droughts. Climate is described by anomalies: the variations (e.g., temperature, precipitation) from the long-term (usually 30 year) average for that area.

  4. A few remarks for those interested:

    The (very rough and abrupt) end to the Texas drought doesn’t really surprise me. It is an indication of the intensifying of the hydrological cycle in case of a warming climate.

    As far as tropical stroms concerned: I wrote a small article on it on my website. It ends with: “One cannot draw from this the conclusion that there is no link between a warming climate and the intensity of tropical storms. There are good thermodynamic reasons to expect such a link to be present. However, there are probably other factors – e.g.: think of wind shear and the thickness of the warm water layer in the tropical oceans – at play which currently prevent a rise in intensity.”

    Mazzel & broge / kind regards, Evert Wesker

  5. My views come close to the AR5 conclusions.

    There is a medium confidence of an increase in droughts in some regions (parts of South Africa, South-Western part of the USA [California], around the Mediterranean); for the rest of the world the picture is more ambiguous.

    With respect to a rise in heavy precipitation events: It is likely over land areas.

    My conclusions on tropical storms are quite similar. Up to now no or little rise in intensity, except for the N. Atlantic and Caribbean (a clear rise).

    Mazzel & broge / kind regards, Evert Wesker

  6. So we roughly agree. One final (obvious) remark: These sort of things should be looked upon on a timescale of several decades. There will always be variations on shorter timescales. (e.g. the 1994, 1998 and 2006 peaks)

    Mazzel, Evert

    1. Evert,

      But looking at individual weather events and short-term trends is politically so much more useful! Look, a storm! I’m right! Look at this line on the graph (non-zero y-scale, short time range): I’m right!

      Plus these perspectives are a boom to click-starved news media. Climate porn gives never-ending flow of vivid stories.

  7. In the meantime.. the NCEP data the last 10 years shows the cooling starting. After the coming Nino spike lik 06-07, 09-10, a sharper drop is likely than 12 since the AMO is now flipping to colder.
    NCEP is the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, administered by NOAA, not a right wing think tank

    This whole “debate” is a waste of our nations time and treasure, given the immense problems facing us today
    Editor’s note: Joe is well-known meteorologist. See his Wikipedia entry.

  8. Pingback: Wildfires and climate change: fake news in action - Fabius Maximus website

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