National Weather Service: Expect A Warm, Dry Winter, North Texas

Last winter was a godsend. After surviving the driest year in Texas history, we got one of the wettest winters on record. Since April, though, North Texas has been racking up rain deficits, according to the National Weather Service's winter outlook.

October was drier than usual, and November saw virtually no measurable rainfall, "resulting in a rapid intensification of the drought." Unfortunately, this winter won't bring much relief. We thought an El Niño might be forming in the equatorial Pacific last summer, with the potential of bringing increased rainfall to Texas in the winter. It doesn't look like that's going to shake out. We're in store for a dry one.

We should also expect a warm one. Which should surprise few, because it's December and sandals still represent appropriate footwear. Still, it's a little bizarre, because neutral years (years without El Niño or La Niña) typically are colder. But the wider trend toward warmer winters and prolonged drought seems to have blunted the effect.

It also means three other, rather unpleasant things: First, we're probably more likely to get hit with some ferocious Arctic blasts. Second, it raises the potential for wildfires. And third, the spring will likely be dry too.

"As a result, the drought is likely to continue well into 2013," the weather service predicts.

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Brantley Hargrove