Eastern Texas received rain in the last week, somewhat alleviating the drought conditions that have been the rule for the last several months, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel.
According to the Palmer Drought Index, much of East Texas remains in a moderate drought situation. The Palmer Drought Index is based on precipitation, temperature and historic data, and is the main drought index used by the U.S. government.
Conditions varied county-to-county, according to AgriLife Extension county agent reports.
"We are getting some rain. Wood County got 1.5 to 3 inches this past week," said Clint Perkins, AgriLife Extension agent for the county, located north of Tyler."It has helped. We are still short from last year's deficit, but on track for this year."
"Cold temperatures again," said Chad Gulley, AgriLife Extension agent for Nacogdoches County, north of Lufkin. "Soil moisture has improved with the cold fronts bringing rain lately, but we are still not out of the drought. Winter forage is growing with the recent rains."
"Cattle are beginning to show the effects of hay shortages and colder temperatures," said Aaron Low, AgriLife Extension agent for Cherokee County, south of Tyler. "Recent rainfall has helped improve the drought conditions some."
"We've had some timely rains in north central Texas, but it's still falling well below what we should get this time of this year," said Mark Fox, climatologist with the National Weather Service, Dallas/Ft. Worth region.
But considering it's a La Niña year, precipitation has been "right on target" with what is expected, he said.
However, a La Niña year also usually means a warmer-than-normal winter, and that has not been the case this year, Fox said.
There is a lot of conjecture as to what's causing the colder than normal temperatures for a La Niña year, Fox said, but it's just that - conjecture.
But as far as the droughty winter, "we've seen this pattern many times before," he said.
"The temperatures start to cool down out in the Pacific Ocean, and this gives us a lot less precipitation across Texas. Pretty much right now, it's falling right in line with what we would see with a normal La Niña year."
Fox said precipitation patterns are already starting to return to normal. "We're definitely going to be looking at a wetter pattern coming up March, April and May," he said.