Our current drought has ravaged crops and pastures, and is contributing to devastating wildfires in West Texas. Using data from the US Drought Monitor, we are able to show you the history of drought in Texas from 2000 to 2011. The higher the bar, the greater percentage of Texas' land mass was in drought.
Accurately predicting droughts is something that has eluded humans since the dawn of agriculture. But one Texas A&M scientist claims to have developed a system that can predict droughts before they happen, according to the university's public relations department.
“Knowing the amount of moisture in the soil at any given time is one of the keys to predicting oncoming droughts,” [Texas A&M University geography professor Steven] Quiring says.
Quiring proposes to collect and perform quality control on existing observation stations, something that has never been done. The collected data will also be used to help calibrate and validate estimates of soil-moisture content made from satellites and global climate models.
Unfortunately, there does not appear to be much drought relief in sight this spring or summer, reports USA Today.
Drought conditions are expected to persist and worsen for the next three months across the USA's southern tier and along the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, according to the Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md.
Texas is the hardest-hit state, where almost half the state is under an "extreme" drought, according to the Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought.
"This is the driest winter we've had since the late 1960s," says John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist. "It's in the top five historically, back to 1895."