Old timers on the Plains will tell you, in seemingly constant times of grinding drought, that with each sunrise and sunset, we’re one day closer to a rain. Conversely, in the rare wet times, the Plains is ever simply between droughts.
With the High Plains having endured more than its share of below normal rainfall the past few growing seasons, farmers and ranchers in the region are hopeful that a wetter weather pattern will be returning soon.
Prognostications in the 2014 edition of the Farmer’s Almanac, edited by Lucas McFadden and distributed by Capital Farm Credit offices across the state sprinkle a few drops of hope for this year with a prediction of much wetter weather for Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico for the upcoming growing season.
The Almanac lists Texas and Oklahoma as Zone 8 and New Mexico and Arizona as Zone 4 in its Weather Zone Map.
For the spring and early summer of this year—March through June—the Almanac foretells “wetter weather in June for Zone 8 and the West,” and above average rainfall for Zone 4 in March and April. On such words sprout hope for meaningful subsoil moisture for crop production and recovery of pastures.
Rainfall for the summer and early fall period of July through October is projected by the Almanac as below normal for July “except in the West and Zones 4 and 8,” with those zones also expected to dodge below-normal precipitation in August.
Below normal rainfall is foreseen for Zones 4 and 8 for November and December of this year.
In its National Weather Forecast for the Zone 8 Texas and Oklahoma region, the Almanac projects a general outlook that starts with above normal temperatures that drop to below normal by March. “Normal” conditions are predicted for spring and early summer.
“We expect a dry January for this zone, followed by a relatively wet February. After a dryer than usual March, we anticipate above normal levels of rainfall through September. Dryer conditions are predicted for October through December to finish out the forecast year,” the Almanac proclaims.
According to the Almanac’s crystal ball, the best rainfall periods of the year should come during the crucial summer growing season months for much of Texas—welcome news if precipitation patterns indeed play out that way.
Month by month for Texas and Oklahoma Zone 8, March moisture is anticipated to be below normal, with April and May above normal. June moisture is seen as “above normal overall” with July moisture above normal in southeast Texas and “near-normal elsewhere.” Above normal moisture is foreseen for August, except for eastern Oklahoma, and above normal precipitation is also anticipated by the Almanac for September, before falling into another all-too-familiar below normal pattern from October through December.
In the Zone 4 region of New Mexico and Arizona, overall above normal precipitation is anticipated from February through August, with below normal precipitation for Arizona in September, but above normal in New Mexico, with above normal periods also expected in November in December.
Whether the rainfall patterns play out as scripted by the Farmer’s Almanac is anybody’s guess, but prognostications for 2013, and historically, have proved fairly accurate, and the outlook for 2014 is pegged as better than last year.
Any hope of drought-easing moisture leaves room for sorely-needed optimism given the scarcity or rainfall the past several growing seasons and falls, and might allow a start on rebuilding deep subsoil moisture. Good growing season rainfall could ease the tremendous pressure exerted on the Ogallala aquifer the past several dry years.
Abundant summer rainfall could also help playa basins rejuvenate moist soil plant growth and launch a recovery for wildlife, particular the drought-decimated quail and pheasant population.
Yes, the Almanac agrees, we’re one day closer to a rain.
We would like to thank Jim Steiert, long time ag writer and outdoorsman, for contributing this article. Jim grew up near Hart, TX and now resides in Hereford, TX. Thank you for your contribution, Jim!