NWS Southern Region Director Bill Proenza addresses Drought Outlook Forum (Photo: NOAA/NWS)
(July 21, 2011) - The first half of this year has found its way into the record books as the driest six month period on record for New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.
While summer monsoon rainfall may bring some relief to western New Mexico and coastal Texas and Louisiana may see some relief from tropical storm systems, continued high temperatures and dry conditions indicate the drought is not likely to end before fall for much of the South Central United States.
The specter of a possible return to La Niña conditions could also be a harbinger of an even more prolonged drought for the region.
"As per the Texas state climatologist, this drought is currently the third worst on record, behind the summer of 1956 and the summer of 1918," said Victor Murphy, climate program manager, National Weather Service Southern Region. "And if these conditions continue through September, we could even surpass those previous record droughts."
With that dire outlook as a backdrop, the National Weather Service Southern Region joined forces with NOAA's National Climate Data Center (NCDC), the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to convene a Drought Outlook Forum, July 7, in Austin, Texas.
Following opening remarks by Bill Proenza, regional director of the National Weather Service Southern Region, attendees were offered a range of presentations and panel discussions focusing on current drought conditions, past and potential impacts, historical comparisons and the outlook for the remainder of the year and into 2012.
"Stakeholders in this region rely on many of the National Weather Service and NOAA products and services to make decisions in the face of drought," said NOAA Southern Region Climate Services Director, Dr. David Brown. "This forum provided them with an opportunity to hear the latest outlook and assessment information, while also sharing their priorities and needs for new or enhanced regional weather and climate services."
In addition to state and federal agencies, dozens of organizations representing water resources, agriculture, livestock, forestry and wildfire management attended the forum.
(L - R) David Brown, director, NOAA Climate Service Southern Region; Victor Murphy, climate program manager, NWS Southern Region; and Meteorologists Marty Hoerling, Earth System Research Laboratory and Dan Collins, Climate Prediction Center (Photo: NOAA/NWS)