In addition to less than optimistic news on grain and cotton price outlooks, folks attending the recent Red River Crops Conference in Altus, Okla., heard that the drought that has gripped southwest Oklahoma and the Texas Rolling Plains for the last three plus years is likely to persist in 2014.

As if that’s not ominous enough, long-term forecasts suggest the region will continue to struggle with climate extremes.

The “Texoma” area, as meteorologist Bryan Rupp dubs it, has borne the brunt of the long-term drought that has  gripped most of the Southwest for four or five years. Rupp, also an on-air meteorologist for KFDX television station in Wichita Falls and a confessed storm chaser, says 2014 likely will see temperatures above normal and precipitation below normal. “The outlook is not the most optimistic,” he said.

Predictions do not include either a La Niña or an El Niño effect — weather phenomena that affect global weather patterns — “but drought continues.” He said rainfall total for the Wichita Falls, Texas, area for January is zero.

He said the continuing drought, accompanied by abnormally high summer temperatures, creates a cycle of hot, dry conditions. “The drought feeds on itself,” he said.

He also noted that a recent La Niña lasted three years, beginning in 2007 and 2008. “We thought then it was a one-year La Niña, then it was two and then it was three.” The last time La Niña persisted for three straight years was 1973 through 1976. The last before that was in the 1950s and resulted in long-term drought, the benchmark for Texas droughts, some say.

In the worst La Niñas, expectations include drought, record heat — up to 110 degrees — wildfires and dust storms. “Temperatures of 110 are not normal for West Texas,” he said, “but we are seeing them every year.”

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