Extension Agent: The month it didn't rain

Jan. 11, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 17, 2011 at 7:18 p.m.

By Brian D. Yanta

As I thought back to 2010, I thought we had a great year in regards to precipitation.

Last year, the Advocate asked me what agriculture gift I wanted for 2010, and I asked for an average year in rainfall (34.84 inches), and, more specifically, that it come in accordance to our monthly averages.

Most people might have asked for more, but when 1933 is the closest you have ever been to your average and your standard deviation is almost 11 inches, maybe you can see why I asked what I asked?

To illustrate my point, I think Jim McDonald, one of our good consigners for the Tri-County Commercial Female Sale, of McDonald Bar 6 in Mathis, said it best. He told a climatologist that was speaking on the 2010 weather outlook at this year's sale, that our South Texas climate can easily be described as having a persistent drought only to be interrupted by infrequent floods.

We had such a great year in rainfall that the dry August and October didn't scare too many people into believing we were headed for another drought with the looming La Nina projections. I am guessing that because of the large hay supplies for sale still and the asking price.

So, let's delve into the numbers (see table 1). The month that sticks out is October, where our weather station here in town recorded a zero total for each day of the month, not even a trace was noted. I don't know if that has ever happened before. A totally dry month has not occurred in at least the last 10 years, looking at the first decade of data.

Another interesting fact about our 2010 rainfall is that it was the 15th wettest year on record. I know this may be boring for some, but I really enjoy perusing the numbers. So, unless you note "the month it didn't rain" the entry of zero will get lost when examining yearly totals. Just like the hidden drought of 2009 where the yearly total was recorded 38.46," and I think everyone remembers how dry it was in '09.

Some other footnotes for the annals of time are that the 1990s and 2000s (see graph 1) Had some of the driest periods that are comparable to those droughts of the '30s and '50s even though they represent two of the wettest decades we have ever seen.

So, what does the next decade hold? Only time will tell, but one question. Does the graph depict an increasing rainfall pattern and trend, or are we cycling back to drier times? So what, if asked, do I want for this year, agriculturally speaking? I think I will ask for the next bar on the chart to go up just a tick - I don't want to get too greedy.

Brian Yanta is the Goliad County Extension agent.



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