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State Climatologist: Drought at Least 1 More Year

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News.
Two Texas senate committees held a joint hearing Tuesday to discuss the state's ongoing drought.

What does the future hold for the Texas drought? Two Texas Senate committees heard testimony today on what has become the worst single-year dry spell in Texas history. The state’s climatologist, John Nielsen- Gammon, told lawmakers not to expect relief anytime soon.

“Going forward this drought is likely to last another year at least because the primary trigger of the drought, La Nina in the Pacific, has returned so it’s extremely unlikely we will come out of drought conditions by the winter,” Nielsen-Gammon said during a hearing at the Capitol Tuesday morning. 

He said the drought has impacted nearly all corners of the state.

"The only portion of the state which was not in exceptional drought conditions at some point during this drought has been the area around Dallas and points north and east of it, so it's easier to talk about what was not exceptional than what was. But even that area suffered under the record heat during the summer, which was brought on primarily by the dry conditions," Nielsen-Gammon testified.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee is reviewing the state’s water resources and considering conservation measures in preparation for the next legislative session in 2013.  Lawmakers on the Senate's Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee are also assessing the impact of the drought on the state's agriculture industry. You can read the complete interim charges (basically homework assigned to these lawmakers) for these committees here.

The Texas Agrilife Extension Service says farmers and ranchers have already lost more than $5-billion because of the drought.