Calm the Climate Alarmism in Dallas

At The Dallas Morning News, there is an article promoting NASA's latest uber-alarmist study on the impending American megadrought which apparently will wreak climate chaos on the Dallas-Fort Worth region:

"North Texas' current drought dates back to October 2010, and as we noted only yesterday Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is short some 40 inches of rainfall between then and now. We've missed out on more than a year's worth of rainfall in the last five years. And there’s nothing in the long-term forecast to suggest we’re in store for the prolonged periods of rain needed to help make a dent in the current drought ...

As of today, Dallas' reservoirs are down 33.48 percent. One year ago they were down 29 percent. The year before, 12 percent.

And it's not likely to get any better. From NASA’s release, 'In the Southwest, climate change would likely cause reduced rainfall and increased temperatures that will evaporate more water from the soil. In the Central Plains, drying would largely be caused by the same temperature-driven increase in evaporation.'"

There is a lot to unpack in these paragraphs.

Here is the annual precipitation record for the Dallas-Fort Worth region since records began in 1899.

There is no sign of the impending apocalypse. Quite the contrary. Since records began, there is an increasing correlation towards more annual precipitation in the area, not less. There aren't even any significant trends towards decreasing precipitation since 1970 or 1985, either.

In the 52 months since the start of October 2010, Dallas-Fort Worth has received 116.2 inches of precipitation. This is not even close to a record low. The record low 52-month consecutive precipitation starting in October is for the period beginning in October 1950 -- 92.7 inches. The most recent period is only the 10th lowest on record.

And in case you were wondering, the 52-month consecutive precipitation starting in October has a highly statistically significant (p=0.002) increasing trend towards more precipitation since records began in the late 19th century.

The average 52-month consecutive precipitation starting in October is 141.8 inches, meaning the current dry spell appears to be 25.6 inches below "normal," not 40 inches.

There is also no long-term trend towards more drought in north-central Texas. The annual Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) almost has a statistically significant trend towards less drought -- not more -- since 1895. The drought for this region in recent years is nothing close to the severity experienced in the 1950s or early 20th century.

The 60-month PDSI for north-central Texas even more clearly reveals that while the past decade has been a drought, it is far less severe than what the area saw in the 1950s and 1910s -- and the overall trend since 1895 is towards far less severe long-term drought.

The current drought seems more severe because it is coming after the region has been through the wettest period in recorded history during the 1980s and 1990s, and now north-central Texas is just returning to more normal droughtlike conditions.

According to the Water Data for Texas website, the Dallas area reservoirs are at 65% full and not declining any more. There has even been a slight upward trend over the past three months, and in the late 2000s the reservoirs had also been at these lower levels before refilling. The historical record clearly shows it is too early to start panicking about the Dallas-Fort Worth water supply.

The real stress on water supplies for this region is not climate change, it is population growth. Since 1970, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington population has increased from 2.4 million up to 6.8 million, which is exactly why it is nonsense to simply look at metropolitan reservoir levels in an unqualified manner as some type of proxy for climate change impacts. Net water supplies could decline in a generally unchanging climate (or even one that is getting wetter) just because of population growth.

Overall, the climate alarmism needs to be toned down in Texas. There are some longer term water planning policies that need to be considered, but this should occur with a sober, objective view of the actual climate trends for this state rather than reactionary, shock-doctrinesque, near-hysterical projections which may not come to pass.