I have been stopped lately in church, or at the grocery store and no matter who I run into, they all ask basically the same question; any rain in the forecast? Well, in short, that answer has been no. There are a few things to blame for this answer, one such thing is not me. I wish I could help to bring much needed rain, but I can only report what's going to happen. The main issue this late Autumn and into the winter has been La Nina. La Nina is the cooling of the water in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It's the opposite of El Nino. There is no time table of when each phenomena comes, or how long they last. They vary. Some of both last for a few months, some a few years. What La Nina does for weather in west Texas in particular is keep things dry.
We have been getting basically a weekly parade of cold fronts this winter season, but they all have been dry passages. We managed to squeak out .01" of rain in Snyder, White River Lake, Post and Fluvanna late last week. But that will not help out the drought. Lubbock has not seen measurable precipitation in 81 days ( as of Sunday, January 28). When we're in a La Nina pattern that cooling of the water in the eastern Pacific shifts the moisture to the northern United States and southern Canada and keeps dry air prevalent in the southern United States. So that is why we have been cut off from the moisture that is supposed to come with these cold fronts. We usually get extreme temperature differences, too. We have for sure seen that this winter season. We've gone for days with below freezing air, then have had highs in the upper 60s and 70s. All of this with no rain, or snow for that matter.
The above picture is the American forecast model for Thursday morning of this coming week. Another cold front is going to push through west Texas and again it will bring in dry air. We'll get another extreme difference in temperatures, as highs will go from the 70s on Wednesday, to the 50s on Thursday. We'll be hard pressed to see any moisture any time soon. That is bad, bad news. I know farmers are having a hard time with working their fields due to the very dry ground. When we get windy days, the dust is going to fly in the air, too. Current forecast runs are keeping things dry all of next week and into the following. So, as we move into February, it looks as through the prolonged dry spell will continue.
For reference, longest dry spell in Lubbock was from October 27, 2005-February 3, 2006. That spanned 98 days, with only 11 days seeing a 'trace' of precipitation. The current trend has us getting to, at least, 90 days without measurable precipitation. That would place this spell second all time here in Lubbock. Sorry for the bad news!
Photo courtesy of Lubbock National Weather Service