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KLST Special - Concho Valley Drought History

For years the Concho Valley has seen periods of unusually dry weather --- its brought us from drought stage one to stage three and then back to one. Meteorologist Jeremy Linder takes a look at the history of the West Texas Drought and if conditions are improving.
KLST Special - Concho Valley Drought History
By: Jeremy Linder
 

"For long as we've had records around Texas and especially West Texas we've seen periods of drought." 

Rain --- it's a hot commodity here in the Concho Valley.  But it's not always our best friend.  Since the start of collecting weather data, Texas and the rest of the country have seen historic periods of drought.  Think back to the dust bowl era of the 20's and 30's and even the most recent case in 2011 --- do you remember the string of triple digits.  That was a pattern that did not surprise one local meteorologist. 

"We’re in a regime that weather changes can cause big changes or big swings in our rainfall.  And the swings are big enough to make a big difference.  In other words plants don't get any water, the catchments don't get any water and so we get in real trouble." 

The Concho Valley has seen several different forms of drought from the short term that affects our plant life. To the long term affecting our reservoirs like Twin Buttes and OC Fisher.  as its gets drier it also gets hotter. 

"It turns out that the temperature around here is controlled by the precipitation by some degree.  So when we have very wet years its cooler.  And when we have very dry years it's hotter." 

Our water supply is not the only thing that suffers during a drought; our economy does too. 

"The drought has been tough on agriculture.  Both our farm and our rancher side.  2011 was devastating, 2013 hasn't been much better it's really cut down on production as far as the farming side.  The difference in the 50's is we didn't have the technology we have now and we didn't have the irrigation.  We didn't have the capability of dripping those deep wells and pumping that water.  Our tillage practices have changed, providing the cover crop, making sure the soil is stable.  It’s always a process of evolution, we're learning every drought we go through, and we learn a better way of managing for it." 

Blanek says October’s rainfall helped alleviate the stress of the current drought, but the battle has just begun. 

"We’ve been blessed with some rain this fall but when we look at underground water tables their still low and still dropping even with the rain.  You have to get the rain at the right time to grow the crops and for the crops to do well. so it's going to take a while to heal back up, three years of drought is going to take three years plus of rain fall to come back and get the water table back and restore some of those grasses." 

The nice thing --- droughts in the 20's 30's and 50's --- all ended by periods of wet weather.  So if history repeats: rain should be on its way --- only time will tell.

Jeremy Linder KLST News. 

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