Is this the worst Texas drought ever?
The answer is no, but it certainly is one of the worst, according to Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M University professor and Texas state climatologist.
"Based on Palmer Drought Severity Index values, this is the third-worst drought Texas has ever seen in the month of May," Nielsen-Gammon writes in his blog, the Climate Abyss. "Records go back to 1895. May also marks the end of the driest eight-month period on record."
The worst droughts remain those in 1918 and 1956, according Nielsen-Gammon.
Nielson-Gammon's blog is hosted by the Houston Chronicle and can be found at http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 50 percent of the state remained in what is termed an "exceptional" drought, which means a once in 50-year occurrence. More than 90 percent of the state was experiencing either a severe or exceptional drought. Only parts of north central and northeast Texas were not at least abnormally dry as of May 31.
It may not be the worst drought ever, but lifelong farmers throughout the state are telling Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents this is the driest they've ever experienced.
"Weather continued to be hot and dry," said Mark Brown, AgriLife Extension agent for Lubbock County. "Blowing dust from gusting winds occurred on several days. Irrigation continues where feasible. May ended with 0.26 inches of moisture recorded, making this year the driest five-month period on record for Lubbock."
And while a few weeks ago, rains may have greened things up in East Texas, the region remains in a drought, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports.
"We are in bad need of rain," said Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for Wood County, about 100 miles east of Dallas. "Hay production is starting with drastically decreased yields. I have reports that the first cutting is one-quarter to half of normal."
"Corn, milo and cotton are under severe drought-like conditions and stressing," said Pasquale Swaner, AgriLife Extension agent for Falls County, near Temple. "Stocker cattle producers have shipped cattle to feedlots. Pasture conditions are severe with little hay production across the county."
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/ .