La Nina Could Extend Texas Drought

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - On Thursday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina warning. That weather pattern has been blamed for the crippling lack of rainfall, and so far, the Basin has just gotten out of one.

But forecasters said another could come this Fall, which could extend the drought into 2012.

"What's being forecast is a return to a neutral or a kind of in-between a La Nina and El Nino weather pattern, and then going more back to a La Nina weather pattern as we get in towards next year," Stormtracker 9 Chief Meteorologist, Tom Tefertiller, said. "So, it's the same thing all over again."

Right now it would take a whopping 15 inches of rain to get out of the drought we're already in. If this drought keeps going, it could mean disaster for West Texas' crops and water supplies.

Agriculture agents said farmers rely on rains in the Winter to bring moisture to the soil.

Without it, agents predict ranchers will have to sell off more cattle if they can't feed them and another year of crops will be set back.

"If we have another one of these types of droughts, sparse rain that you did get in the Spring, it doesn't moisten up the ground enough for that seed to germinate," Midland County Agriculture Extension Agent, Zan Matthies, said. "In a nutshell, that's what it will do to us, it'll knock out next year's dry land crop season if this continues."

Water supplies are at risk too.

Officials with the Colorado River Municipal Water District said if no inflow comes to their lakes this Fall, their deliveries will be reduced again.

"We don't get any inflow, we're looking at the numbers, if we reduce the deliveries down to something like Winter time water use, going all through next year, how long would our surface water last?" CRMWD General Manager, John Grant, said..

The CRMWD might go to Winter deliveries to their member cities for all of next year. They're currently delivering more than 60 million gallons a day to their member cities.

Winter deliveries come in at 42 million a day, which could lead to more water restrictions.

All in all, a return to La Nina could mean bad news as thousands across the Basin keep praying for rain.

If you'd like more information on La Nina weather patterns, click on this link: http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/lanina.html.