Most of the Panhandle Under an Extreme Drought

Last month, the Panhandle saw less than an inch of measurable moisture. Although it was needed, weather experts said it didn't make a dent in our consistently dry area. 

 The sight of rain has been a rare one on the High Plains.

"At this point it's mostly just a waiting game, waiting for us to get some moisture," said Britney Trumpy, KAMR Local 4's Weekend Meteorologist. 

And we've already waited for some time now.

Prior to February 17th's rain, Meteorologist Britney Trumpy said our area went more than 140-days without any measurable moisture. 

And when it finally did rain, it didn't pour. She said last month on that date, we saw .01 inches of rain. 

 "In actuality when you look at how below normal we are, we're about 3-4 inches, 2-4 inches. So if we were to get a pattern of getting some moisture, we're still at the point where a couple of good rain events could wipe that out pretty quick, so that's the good news.," said Michael Gittinger, Acting Meteorologist in Charge at Amarillo National Weather Service. 

But there's some bad news too.

"Even with La Nina weakening, that effect of the dryness typically extends to the earlier part of the summer at least. So it doesn't look like we'll see above normal rainfall. At least the most likely outcome is, we'll be below normal at least until June so we'll have to see what happens later on in the summer from there," said Gittinger.

Fire experts said warmer temps, windy conditions and this current drought could make a volatile mix this season.

 "We're coming into springtime. We're going to have higher temperatures and higher winds. It's not going to take much to set the whole Panhandle on fire," said Capt. Larry Davis, Amarillo Fire Department.

But he said they're prepared and will continue to work on equipping crews to reduce the possible effects of wildfires.

Meteorologists said the more than 140 days without any measurable moisture was record breaking because it was the longest stretch of no rain in the Panhandle in the history of our area.

Captain Davis said they're planning to conduct more prescribed burns throughout the city. Before they burn, they look for high-hazard areas around town, then a prescription is written, and then it's intentionally set on fire. 

He said we could see another one as early as May.

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