Weather whiplash messes with Texas

Texas illustrates the La Niña and climate change-related swings between drought and deluges, Andrew writes.

Driving the news: For example, the Dallas metro area saw most of its summer rainfall come in just three weeks between Aug. 10 and Sept. 5, said Victor Murphy, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

  • During this period, Dallas experienced a 1,000-year rainstorm with about 15 inches of rain falling across the metro area on August 21-22.
  • Some 3.01 inches of rain fell at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in just one hour, setting an all-time record.

Context: Such extreme precipitation events are consistent with climate studies showing these are becoming more common and severe as temperatures increase.

  • Since that three-week stretch ended, Murphy said, it has “turned bone dry.”
  • This is the first calendar year with two separate 40-plus day stretches without measurable rainfall at DFW, Murphy said.

Threat level: Going into the cool season, Murphy said, Texas’ water resources are only about 13% better than they were at this point during the extreme drought in 2011 when supply worries reared their head during a La Niña summer.

  • More people have moved to Texas, increasing water demand since then, Murphy noted.
  • “I shudder to think where we would be right now without that three-week deluge,” he said.