Current Drought Conditions
Abundant rainfall this fall and the resulting green growth has significantly reduced the threat of wildfires. But as freezing temperatures send warm season vegetation into dormancy, this growth could become fuel for wildfires throughout the cold season. However, the prospects for a wet winter should limit fire weather concerns.
Even if a burn ban is not in effect for your area, it is still important to be vigilant about fire usage. Avoid open flames near dry vegetation, and assure all coals and embers are fully extinguished.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is a drought statistic specifically designed to assess fire danger.
After nearly 5 years of significant water restrictions, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) began allowing twice-per-week watering on May 1, 2015. Sprinklers and other irrigation systems are still be prohibited between 10 am and 6 pm (April 1 to October 31). The NTMWD serves 1.6 million customers east and northeast of the city of Dallas.
In April 2014, the Fort Worth City Council made permanent its twice-per-week limit on landscape watering. Only hand watering is allowed between 10 am and 6 pm. Arlington, also within the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) service area, is still requesting that residents adhere to a twice-per-week watering schedule, but the formal restrictions have been lifted. Dallas has made permanent its twice-per-week limit, but the restriction on daytime watering is limited to the warm season (April 1 to October 31). Since water restrictions vary considerably throughout the Metroplex, residents should keep informed with the current guidelines from their municipality or water utility provider.
El Niño conditions strengthened considerably during the warm season, and a strong El Niño event is expected during the upcoming cold season. This has increased confidence in the wet outlook the remainder of the fall, during the upcoming winter, and into the spring of 2016. Based on previous El Niño events, the prospects for enhanced precipitation are greater towards the Gulf coast. The wet signal is strong in Central Texas but is much less significant along the Red River and in western portions of North Texas. The strength of El Niño may also play a role, with stronger El Niño events resulting in higher precipitation totals.
Precipitation Outlooks for the Cold Season
These outlooks present the likelihood of receiving a precipitation total that differs significantly from normal. Green areas denote parts of the country with an increased chance of being in the wettest tercile, or the wettest third of historical data. Similarly, brown areas denote parts of the country that are projected to have an elevated chance of being in the driest tercile. Where neither color is shaded, there is no strong signal to determine an accentuated chance of being in either the driest or wettest tercile. This does not mean that near normal precipitation is expected, but simply that the period is just as likely to be in the wettest tercile as it is to be in the driest tercile.