The National Weather Service (NWS) - Climate Prediction Center (CPC) said last week that the April outlook indicates a probability (but not a strong signal) of above normal temperatures inside the 33 percentile line for much for the North Central and South Central Texas climate divisions stretching from the Red River south to the Rio Grande and gulf coast. However, the CPC suggests above normal temperatures inside the 40 percentile line for the far western counties of the two regions and "equal chances" of above normal, normal or below normal temperatures for East Texas.
The CPC forecast of "equal chances" for above normal, normal or below normal precipitation is painted statewide. There were no clear climate signals for precipitation variability across Texas beyond climatological probabilities.
"Statistical and dynamical ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) forecast models maintain La Niña conditions through April. Increased chances for above normal temperatures are predicted from the southwest through the southern Great Plains," said forecaster Ed O'Lenic.
NOAA spring outlook:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated that aspects of the spring outlook for April through June include above-average temperatures in much of the southern half of the U.S. Additionally, drier-than-average conditions are expected through Texas.
"Drought has been spreading and deepening since the winter and is forecast to persist in spring. Wildfires will be an increasing threat, especially when humidity is low and when winds are high," said Susan Buchanan of NOAA.
"(Temperatures) are expected to run around 10 degrees above normal into (late March). This will increase drying of soils, but also help speed early season vegetative growth," stated meteorologist Joe Harris of the NWS in Fort Worth.
Last week's U.S. Drought Monitor report illustrates moderate drought conditions across the western half of North Texas from the counties south of Dallas to the Red River. Severe drought is indicated in the eastern half with extreme drought in the southeastern counties of the region and spreading into East Texas. Moderate-to-severe drought persists in South Central Texas.
How will the lack of rainfall affect the upcoming Texas wildflower season?
"Little rain last fall in much of Texas means bluebonnets and other early spring wildflowers will not be as impressive as last year's display," according to Barbra Rodriguez, senior botanist at The University of Texas at Austin's Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
John Krause, co-host of Living Natural First on WBAP-AM (820) told NewsWatch Dallas, "The lack of moisture will definitely decrease the amount of wildflowers we see this year. It's been about 30 days since any measurable precipitation and this in when wildflowers need it the most."
The precipitation departure from normal for 2011 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is -3.34 inches. Since Jan. 1, 2010, rainfall is 6.37 inches below normal.