From Jeff Masters' WunderBlog...
The devastating Texas drought that has already cost over $5 billion could continue for nine more years, predicted Texas State Climatologist John Nielson-Gammon in an interview with Reuters yesterday. "It is possible that we could be looking at another of these multi-year droughts like we saw in the 1950s, and like the tree rings have shown that the state has experienced over the last several centuries," Nielson-Gammon said. Drought statistics released yesterday by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that over 96% of Texas is experiencing the two worst categories of drought, extreme and exceptional. The past 12 months have been the driest one-year period on record in Texas. The main blame for this year's drought can be put on La Niña, the cooling of equatorial Pacific waters that deflects the jet stream and takes rain-bearing low pressure system away from Texas. Other large-scale atmospheric/oceanic patterns called the Pacfic Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) have also favored dry conditions for Texas this year. When the AMO brings warm ocean temperatures to the North Atlantic, as it has since 1995, Texas is typically dry. Texas also tends to be dry when the PDO brings cool ocean temperatures to the coastal North Pacific next to North America. This has been the case since 2007 (except for late 2009 and early 2010.) In a post earlier this month in his excellent blog, Climate Abyss, Nielson-Gammon has this to say about the influence of global warming on the 2011 drought:
Precipitation: The balance of evidence does not support the assertion that the rainfall deficit since October 2010 was made larger or more likely by global warming.
Temperature: Compared to long-term averages of summer temperature,the rainfall deficit accounted for about 4°F of excess heat and global warming accounted for about 1°F of excess heat. Warmer temperatures lead to greater water demand, faster evaporation, and greater drying-out of potential fuels for fire. Thus, the impacts of the drought were enhanced by global warming, much of which has been caused by man.
And, yes, I did see Brian Dwan live in college. He and his electric dulcimer opened for They Might Be Giants.
The lyrics, in case you needed them...
Oh, the devil in hell they say he was chained,
And there for a thousand years he remained;
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But decided he'd start up a hell of his own,
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being shut in a prison pen;
So he asked the Lord if he had any sand
Left over from making this great land.
2. The Lord He said, "Yes, I have plenty on hand,
But it's away down south on the Rio Grande,
And to tell you the truth, the stuff is so poor
I doubt it will do for a hell anymore."
The Devil went down and looked over the truck,
And he said if it came as a gift he was stuck,
For when he'd examined it carefully and well
He decided the place was too dry for a hell.
3. But the Lord to just get the stuff off His hands
He promised the Devil He'd water the lands,
For He had some old water that was of no use,
A regular bog hole that stunk like the deuce.
So the contract was signed and the deed was given,
And the Lord went up to his spread up in heaven.
The Devil soon saw he had everything needed
To make a good hell and I'll say he succeeded.
4. He scattered tarantulas over the road,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sand with millions of ants
So the man that sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jack rabbit's ear;
He put water puppies in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.
5. He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees.
He mixed up the dust with jiggers and fleas.
The rattlesnakes bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mesquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer's a hundred and ten--
Too cool for the devil and too hot for men,
And all who remained in that climate soon bore
Stings, cuts, bites, scratches, and blisters galore.
6. He quickened the buck of the bronco steed
And poisoned the feet of the centipede.
The wild boar roams in the black chaparral.
It's a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.
He planted red pepper beside of the brooks;
The Mexicans use them in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Mexican and you will shout,
"I've got hell on the inside as well as the out!"