Dry winter expected across the High Plains due to La Niña weather pattern

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The High Plains is currently in a dry season. As we transition into a La Niña pattern, we can expect a dry, warmer than average winter.

“A La Niña for the Texas Panhandle, and really for the southwest part of the United States, is a ridge of high pressure on the top of us—not one day or two days, but we’re talking weeks on end. And that gives us a very dry weather pattern,” said Chief Meteorologist John Harris. “So for us, typically it just means dry weather, and that means not as much snow, not as much rain.”

Harris said because of that dry winter, we will likely end this year with a huge deficit for precipitation totals.

He said we can expect to see rain events from time to time, but not many.

“Because there’s less moisture in the atmosphere, we’re typically warmer than we would be in a normal winter,” Harris said. “You still get the Arctic outbreaks. That’s still going to happen, cold air always wins the battle but overall, it looks like the period from right now all the way through the winter season can be above average temperature-wise.”

According to Harris, because of the dry winter ahead, if we do see snow it will likely be mixed with wind, meaning more blizzard-like conditions.

While little snowfall and rain is good for winter travel, it is not ideal. Harris said as a result, our main concern will be an elevated wildfire threat.

“So, once all the grasses freeze and cure, they’re ripe for wildfires. So, our wildfire season may be above average as we travel into really, the latter part of this year, and then all the way through the winter and early March, all the way actually in early April,” said Harris.

His advice for protecting from wildfire damage: watering and maintaining grass.

“For the folks that live out on the you know, have farms or whatnot, keep the grass as low as you can close to the house and try to give as much of a break as you can between you and you know, the fields around you that might have mesquite trees or may have vegetation, so that if there is a wildfire will actually just go around your property instead of continuing straight over the top.”

Harris added if we enter Spring without much moisture, it could exacerbate these problems.

“What we’d like to see is to go from a La Niña to neutral. Neutral can go one way or the other, as far as the chances of rain into the spring season,” Harris said. “Of course, El Niño is what we like. That gives us an abundance of rain but we just don’t see that on the horizon.”

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