Farm and Ranch
El Niño weather patterns expected to bring wetter conditions through winter
By Adam Russell, Texas A&M
Sep 20, 2018
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College Station, Texas -- Texas is emerging from one of the hottest, driest summers on record, but the long-term forecast suggests winter and spring will be wet, according to the state climatologist.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon in College Station said statewide temperatures from May through August were the third hottest on record. This summer was also drier, with precipitation levels more than 2.5 inches below average for the state, ranking this year as the 29th driest on record.

But that could change soon, Nielsen-Gammon said.  

Nielsen-Gammon said long-term forecasts call for El Niño weather patterns through winter and spring. El Niño weather patterns typically mean above-average rainfall, especially for southern parts of Texas.

“September is already off to a good start,” he said. “It’s not good for cotton producers, but much of the state has received moisture in the last few weeks.”

Nielsen-Gammon said 5-15 inches of rain had fallen between Del Rio and San Antonio in the past week and that much of Central Texas picked up 2 inches or more during that same time with forecasts calling for more precipitation to follow.

“It looks like wet tropical patterns will contribute more moisture,” he said. “It also looks like things may be drying out a little following the rains, but Texas can expect more consistent rain into the fall, winter and spring as the El Niño patterns strengthen.”

Rain gathers in the corner of a pasture near Tyler. Pastures were showing signs of recovery following weekend rains. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell)

Whether warmer or colder temperatures will accompany the El Niño pattern is a toss-up, Nielsen-Gammon said. While cooler temperatures typically accompany precipitation, factors associated with climate change will mitigate the overall effect of those weather events.

“At this point, it looks like equal chances of above- and below-average temperatures,” he said.