Browning-Garriss: Dry conditions likely to continue
Oct. 27, 2011 at 5:27 a.m.
Updated Oct. 28, 2011 at 5:28 a.m.
A dry 2011 meant trying times for many Texas producers, but next year won't be much better, an expert said.
Texas is in for extended drought conditions, said Evelyn Browning-Garriss, a historical climatologist who writes and publishes The Browning Newsletter, a monthly publication centered on long-term climate forecasts.
Browning-Garriss presented "Texas Drought and Changing Climate" Thursday at the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show luncheon.
This year, La Nina weather conditions meant dry times throughout the southern United States, she said. At the same time, volcanic dust in the polar atmosphere meant arctic air moved south and North America still sat in the grips of a long-term trend of a cooler Pacific Ocean.
"And so it's like a cold La Nina being magnified by a cooler Pacific," she said after her presentation. "That's why this drought was so extraordinary."
The same factors will join for the coming year, she said, meaning producers are up against the same hurdles.
The news isn't necessarily good, she said, but it gives people an idea about what to expect.
"Here's your chance," she said to a crowd of about 300 farmers and ranchers. "Think of what you should have done last winter, last spring. Go ahead and do it."
She advised people to look at long-term weather patterns.
A 50-year cycle that provided abundant moisture and good conditions for North America ended in 2006, she explained. Many people believed those conditions to be typical, she said, but they were just part of a cycle.
Now, we are likely to see a 30-year pattern of warmer, dryer weather interrupted every five to six years by abundant rain. That's what happened in the 1950s and 1960s, and back then, Texas made it through.
Browning-Garriss ended her presentation with a Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."
The Chinese might regard it as a curse, she said, but Texans view it more as a mild compliment. And, although the state has tough times ahead, it comes from a culture that knows how to adapt.
"Hey, it beats being bored," Browning-Garriss said. "So, you'll be facing some interesting times. Good luck."
Jason Elder, a Victoria resident with a family ranch, was in the audience Thursday. He said it was interesting and, even if some parts were concerning, opportunities were available for farmers and ranchers.
"People just need to take advantage of them," he said.
As for Jeff Nunley, a member of the farm and ranch show committee, he said news that the region faced more months of drought made him glad the luncheon took place where it did.
"I guess it's a good reason we have this presentation on the ground floor so we don't all go out and jump out a window," he said with a laugh to the crowd.