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Archived Events � Drought 2005


Hurricane Rita Rainfall TotalsDrought conditions, which began during the middle springtime months of 2005, continued to worsen through the fall/winter months across much of the Four State Region, with much below normal rainfall occurring since October, 2005. However, it should be noted that Hurricane Rita, which made landfall near Cameron, LA during the early morning hours of September 24th, produced widespread 2 to 4 inch rainfall amounts, with a narrow swath of 5 to 12 inch totals along the path of the center of circulation from Deep East Texas into extreme Northwest Louisiana (see adjacent image), tracking from just east of Lufkin, TX, across Shreveport, LA while weakening. Because of the excessive rainfall that fell from this hurricane, September rainfall totals were near/above normal in most locations, although very little rainfall fell before/after this storm impacted the area.

The Fall and Winter months of 2005-06 have also continued the trend of above normal average temperatures, especially October, where many locations recorded not only very little rainfall, but fell into the top 15 warmest Octobers ever on record. The lack of rainfall and warm temperatures has aided in the worsening of the drought, with the U.S. Drought Monitor upgrading Northeast Texas north of Interstate 20, Southeast Oklahoma, and adjacent sections of Southwest Arkansas into Exceptional Drought status, the most crippling drought classification ever. Extreme Drought conditions prevailed farther south across much of the rest of East Texas, Northwest Louisiana, and the remainder of Southwest Arkansas, while Severe to Moderate Drought conditions continued elsewhere across Deep East Texas and Northcentral Louisiana. These very dry conditions have contributed to the growth of many wildfires which have been ignited over the region, fueled by additional brush/dead plants that were killed off by the freezing temperatures which occurred in November and December. Strong winds and very low afternoon relative humidities have also aided in the development/spread of these wildfires, with county/parishwide burn bans in place for much of the Four State Region from late December through the first three weeks of January. These fires have charred tens of thousands of acres areawide.

An isohytal 2005 Annual Rainfall Map
Here is a graphical cummulative 2005 annual rainfall across the area. Locations across southeast Oklahoma...northeast Texas and adjacent areas of southwest Arkansas was much drier than the rest of the region. The spike of rainfall across deep east Texas was due to Hurricane Rita. The other spike across north central Louisiana had more than one cause, but the main reason was that the Gulf of Mexico moisture had more time to return northward in this area, before drier air from the west or northwest overspread the region which allowed from convection.

The relentless drought has also had a dramatic impact on the region economically and recreationally, where hay production decreased significantly over East Texas, in which only a quarter to a third of the norm was produced, as many farmers were only able to make one or two cuts all summer. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated several East Texas counties as natural disaster areas, allowing farmers to apply for low interest federal loans through the Farm Bureau Service. In fact, Texas drought losses for 2005 have topped $1.5 Billion! Many area lakes, rivers, and underground aquifers remain at or near record low pool stages, with the city of Shreveport slated to begin drawing water from Twelve Mile Bayou February 1st in an effort to raise the level on Cross Lake, the city’s water supply, as it remains some 3+ feet below normal pool stage. The drought has even dried up wetlands and destroyed waterfowl habitats in Arkansas, forcing a 50% decrease in the number of waterfowl statewide.

2005 ended as one of the top 10 driest years ever on record at many locations, with much of the area receiving only 50-60% of normal rainfall. While the remainder of the winter months through the spring could see equal probabilities for below, normal, or above normal rainfall, the overall upper air pattern appears to be changing to favor more opportunities for rain, with January expected to reflect near normal rainfall totals.

The following table indicates the cumulative 2005 rainfall total, their departures, and other statistics for selected cities in the Four State Region:

Location 2005 YTD
from Normal
of Normal
Driest Year
Shreveport, LA
Since 1872
Monroe, LA
Since 1930
Texarkana, AR
Since 1892
El Dorado, AR
Since 1892
De Queen, AR
Since 1936
Tyler, TX
Since 1898
Longview, TX
Since 1902
Lufkin, TX
Since 1948
Broken Bow, OK
Idabel, OK

An animation of the U.S. Drought Monitor for 2005.  One image per month from January to December.
Here is how the 2005 Drought progreesed across the region from January to December with 1 image per month. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.