After experiencing several years of consecutive drought, climatologists were surprised by just how quickly the state improved its dry conditions.
About 57 percent of the state — including Lubbock and the South Plains — was in a drought this time last year, said Brian Fuchs, climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center. Now, only 4.61 percent of the state is in a drought.
“When we start looking at where we’re at right now compared to where we were last year, it has been quite a difference because right now we’re not really talking about too much drought at all,” he said. “It’s funny. Typically we don’t see improvements happen as quickly as they did with this year’s situation where we went from four to five years of drought in parts of Texas to having the wettest May and June on record; just how quickly some of those tides turned.”
The remaining drought conditions in the state are in East Texas, which has been dry for the last six or seven weeks, Fuchs said.
Lubbock County was officially drought-free in October after entering its most recent drought in December 2010, according to the drought center.
Although several factors are taken into consideration when determining drought conditions, heavy rainfall this year has helped Lubbock and the South Plains stay out of a drought.
Lubbock had its lowest rainfall total on record during its first full year of drought in 2011, with only 5.86 inches the entire year, according to the National Weather Service in Lubbock.
The city more than doubled that amount of rainfall in just one month this year, with near-record rainfall of 12.12 inches in May alone, according to NWS.
To date, Lubbock has received more than 22 inches of rain this year.
“One of the big factors with long-term droughts like we were seeing across Texas was just how low some of the lakes and reservoirs and water storage was across the state and almost all of that was alleviated during the months of May and June with how wet it was,” Fuchs said. “We also saw a good recovery in river and stream flows as well as groundwater levels that had been drawn down over the last four years with the drought.”
Although most of Lubbock has stayed out of the drought this year, Fuchs said the small percentage of the state that is still in a drought continues to see fluctuation.
“We’re seeing a lot of ups and downs and swings in conditions,” he said.
This article was written by SARAH RAFIQUE from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.