High Plains Drought Worsens

- AMARILLO -- More dust storms could be in our extended forecast.

        The latest U.S. drought monitor shows the panhandle getting exceedingly drier with large parts of the area under exceptional drought.

        As much as we're used to getting blowing dust in the area, full blown dust storms like we've seen over the last two weeks are actually pretty rare for Amarillo.

        For example, since 2005, the National Weather Service has issued only five dust storm warnings.  We've already got two this year.

        Meteorologists blame the ongoing drought.

        According to the U.S. drought monitor, it's gotten worse over the last month.  Especially on the high plains where more areas have moved to extreme or exceptional drought.

        It's expected to get worse over the next weeik with no rain in the forecast.

        NWS meteorologist Andrew Moulton says we're still in a neutral pattern which could translate to rain this spring.

        "Right now we're looking at equal chances of having a normal spring which would be nice because we haven't had a normal spring in quite some time.  So that's what we're hoping for.  Looking even further than that we're actually under an el Nino watch."  Moulton said.

        That would mean more rain for us here in the panhandle and the southern tier of the United States.

        According to our own chief meteorologist John Harris, if el Nino does happen, it'll be later in the year.  Too late to help-out this spring and summer

        88% of Texas is in some form ouf drought.  Four months ago, that number was at 81%.

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