Weather woes in Texas

We’ve all heard the children’s rhyme, “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.”

Many in Dallas-Fort Worth may have been saying that to themselves as storms hit the DFW area for

two weeks. The National Weather Service in Fort Worth issued flood warnings for Tarrant and Dallas Counties along with other North Texas areas.

Tornado warnings were issued Oct. 13 but mostly in isolated regions of Hill County. A weak tornado touched down in Waxahachie. Stephen Levine, a senior academic adviser at Richland and an avid storm chaser, said he has never seen a weather event last as long during the time he’s been in Texas.

“What we’ve had this year, and in prior years, too, recently are radical swings in extreme drought and flooding. This year, we had severe drought this summer and late spring and then we flipped to flooding,” Levine said.

On July 31, 59 percent of the state was under a moderate-to-severe drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. In September and October, flooding was present throughout the state due to heavy rainfall.

Professor Stephen Kallenberg, an environmental science and geology professor at Richland, said there is no letup in sight.

“What the scientists are saying is we will see more extreme weather events. Like it’ll be more common. So, if something is, you know, once in a 10-year storm, that may be now a once in a five-year storm. Maybe once every five years, we get a large weather event instead of once every 10 years. And so, that’s twice as common we get these kinds of [weather events],” Kallenberg said.

A prime example is the city of Houston. According to the Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center, Harris County Flood Control District and Houston, Houston has experienced three of these so-called “500-year floods” since 2010. These floods tend to be severe, causing large amounts of property damage, displacement and even casualties.

Scientists with a joint research team from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands theorize that the melting of the Arctic ice sheet has been causing unusual activity in the jet stream of our planet.

The air masses that move the weather (known as jet streams) slowed down, even to a point of becoming stationary. The jet stream can also create extremes of weather after a period of record heat. Temperatures have noticeably dropped in the Metroplex, and it can be linked to a change in the jet streams.

Both Levine and Kallenberg expect more severe and even extreme weather due to the continuation of global warming. In other news, there might be good news for those who wish for a white winter. Levine said North Texas may get a chance of snow.

“We could, especially under an El Niño system where the general trend is a little cooler than average, as we’re in an El Niño year right now,” Levine said.

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) forecasting said the winter will be warmer and wetter than normal for North Central Texas.

NOAA does not state that below average temperatures will not occur, as there is still a possibility. Its winter forecast is less confident as this El Niño system isn’t as strong as the El Niño system of 2015/2016. Other weather events can still influence the climate, including a cold front or a high pressure system despite the area being considered warmer.