A look at the The 2011 Drought
With 2011 coming to an end, we can take a look at the drought over a calendar year and really see how impressive the lack of rainfall really was. Much of the Lone Star State has seen significant departures from the normal precipitation amounts. Although the past few months have been much closer to what we typically experience, the damage done during the spring and summer months cannot be overstated.
The images below show the radar estimated rainfall across the Southern Plains. Other images within the frame depict the normal rainfall for the year, departure from normal (in inches), and percent of normal. Its quite obvious from the departure from normal image that the entire state suffered through this drought. Focusing on West Central Texas, the observed rainfall (Fig. 1) depicts generally less than 10 inches of rain west of a line from Throckmorton to Sonora with amounts approaching 20 inches near Brownwood, Coleman and San Saba. Normal rainfall for the year would average between 18 and 27 inches for most of the area. This puts rainfall for the year typically between 25 and 75 percent. Slightly drier conditions were observed in Sterling and Crockett Counties, where observed rainfall was less than 25 percent of normal.
|Fig. 1 - Estimated precipitation for 2011||Fig. 2 - Normal precipitation for 2011|
|Fig. 3 - Precipitation departure from normal||Fig. 4 - Precipitation percent of normal|
In addition to the extreme heat, 2011 will go down as the 6th driest year on record with a total of 9.21" at the official observing station at San Angelo. This is 12.04" below the normal rainfall amount of 21.25". It is worth noting that 3 of the drier years have a good deal of missing data, making their place among the top ranks rather suspect. Our complete climate records date back to 1947, making this the 3rd driest year since that time. Another astounding fact is that 2011 will be the first "single digit" rainfall year (less than 10") in 55 years (1956) and only the 7th on record.
Abilene fared better with precipitation, albeit still well below normal. Abilene Regional Airport measured 16.83" of rainfall this year. This is 7.99" below the normal mark of 24.82". This makes 2011 only the 20th driest year on record for Abilene.