Changing weather could delay season, Aggie says
By Ian White
HURRICANE season in Texas could be delayed until late summer if the state’s leading weather analyst has his predictions on target.
State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, a Texas A&M University professor, is forecasting mild temperatures during early summer and little danger of hurricane landfall in Texas until later in the season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.
“For hurricanes, the key will be how quickly La Niña develops in the tropical Pacific,” he said in a statement issued by A&M on Friday.
“The sooner La Niña forms, the more active the Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be. Even so, Texas is a small target, so an active hurricane season across the entire Atlantic would not necessarily mean one or more landfalls in Texas itself.”
Nielsen-Gammon is basing his theories on a change now taking place in the underwater temperatures in the tropical Pacific.
The warm waters of the El Niño weather pattern that has governed America’s climate since last summer are giving way to cooler waters that could produce a La Niña pattern by late summer or fall, with a warm and dry winter following behind, he says.
In his statement, he said the federal climate prediction center rates the chances of a La Niña pattern forming by then at about 75 per cent and that “a tongue of cooler-than-normal” water traveling eastward across the Tropics just below the surface has reached South America.
He added: “Those cooler waters will continue to spread across the surface of the ocean as the warmer water moves westward, back toward New Guinea and Indonesia.”
As well as predicting the next few months’ weather, Nielsen-Gammon also said the winter just passed was one of the warmest on record in Texas and that El Niño was believed to be the culprit responsible for the past year’s above-average rainfall over much of Texas.
But he regards some aspects of the weather during the past six months as atypical of an El Niño period.
His statement said that the seven months beginning in October formed Texas’ wettest October-April period on record since 1895 and that, although there was a “dry stretch” in January and February, the six months starting in November formed the seventh wettest November-April period on record.
During that time, he said, cities statewide experienced one of their 10 warmest cool seasons on record, while “cold weather was mostly a no-show and winter this year was almost non-existent in many parts of Texas”.
That included our locale. Nielsen-Gammon said: “The temperature only got down to 22 degrees in Abilene, 27 degrees in Dallas, 30 in San Antonio, 31 in urban Austin and 40 in Galveston.
“All of these were new records for mildness, with weather records going back for more than a century in most locations.”