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Could the Big Country’s three-year drought backfire?

ABILENE, TX (KTAB/KRBC) – May turned out to be an outlier in terms of rainfall, compared to previous months in 2023. Our meteorologists say a change in weather patterns could be to blame.

“We’re moving from a ‘La Niña’ pattern, which we’ve been through three years in a row – which happens very rarely, but it’s made us very dry… Now [we’re] enter an “El Niño” pattern, which historically means a wetter period,” explained Sam Nichols, KTAB’s chief meteorologist.

This change in precipitation may portend wetter and cooler summer months. But, as we have experienced, this is accompanied from time to time by a rise in the level of lakes, reservoirs and streams.

“No matter how dry or wet our ground is, it’s going to be hard to absorb that much rain that’s coming that quickly,” said Dylan Smith, KRBC’s chief meteorologist.

While fishermen and cotton growers can rejoice, low-lying area residents are keeping a close eye on the rain gauge and bracing for higher rainfall than we’ve seen in recent years.

“My son, he got off the sidewalk and he got up to his waist,” Glenda Collier, in the Catclaw Creek area, described.

Collier told KTAB/KRBC the flooding was much worse in her neighborhood, but since the city dug a runoff reservoir to hold the excess water, their streets and porches have been pretty clear of floodwaters. . It is an assessment supported by his neighbor, Reyes Rodriguez.

KTAB/KRBC asked Rodriguez, “Are you worried about the flooding tonight?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Rodriguez replied. “The creek has been cleaned up pretty well… After it stopped raining, the water continues to flow.”

Now, high water crossing some Abilene roads and rushing down creeks suggests the need to be prepared, should this heavy rain arrive.

“We’ve already eclipsed about four and four tenths of an inch of rain this month,” Nichols said. “More than two inches above our May average.”

Although Rodriguez and Collier said a wetter summer is something they would like to see, even if it means keeping a duffel bag ready if the waters rise higher than usual.

“We can’t just guarantee the next three months. It’s going to be a wet summer, but we’ve turned the corner to a point where we’re in an ‘El Niño’ pattern…And that’s a bit of hope, and we needed that hope,” Nichols added.

The next few months are shaping up to be a little more optimistic than the ones we left behind in 2022.


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