Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says chances are good that our four year long drought, which began in devastating fashion back in the summer of 2011, could end in 2015, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, which gauges drought levels across the country, now lists the entire San Antonio area in its category of 'Drought Removal Likely by March.'
Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor of Atmospheric Studies at Texas A&M, told News Radio 1200 WOAI in an interview that the signs do point in that direction.
"Right now the current drought levels are better overall than they have been since 2011," he said."We've got a relatively favorable weather pattern, with El Nino or at least Marginal Nino in the Pacific."
The Drought Monitor says Bexar County today is in the least severe of the four levels of drought, 'Moderate Drought,' and much of this area, including the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin, is simply 'abnormally dry.' Indeed, the region to the east of San Antonio is not in any level of drought condition at all.
The multi year drought burst onto the scene with a vengeance in 2011, sparking massive and spectacular brush and grass fires, devastating the Texas cattle crop and sparking the rise in beef prices we still see today, and ushering in years of urban water restrictions which made the brown, or better yet the xeroscaped, laws as a major suburban status symbol.
Forecasters point to other positive signs, like a return to the standard rain levels in November and December, a drop in the total year to date rain deficit, even the fact that there are no restrictions in place against the use of fireworks this New Years Holiday.
Nielsen-Gammon says just like the drought of the 1950s, which brought Texas the Highland Lakes and a new appreciation for water use restrictions, the drought of the 2010s will have left its mark as well.
"We now have a path forward for improving our water supplies for the future droughts which are going to come, and that, at least, is a good thing," he said.
He pointed to the decision to use state Rainy Day fund money for major water development projects, a new emphasizes on creative ways to find new water sources, like desalination, and the massive SAWS water deal which was hammered about by City Council earlier this year.
Nielsen-Gammon says like the advances of the 1950s which made the Drought of the 2010s more bearable, we will have a lot to study before the next major multi year drought arrives, which could be sooner rather than later.
"The population will be the biggest change the next time it happens," he said. "That is what we are going to have to allow for going forward."
But while there is a good chance that the bulk of the state's population, and it's five major population centers, will be out of drought in 2015, not all of the state will benefit.
He says the area from Abilene west and north into the Texas Panhandle is not benefitting from the El Nino rains, and will remain in drought for the foreseeable future. Nielsen-Gammon says that region will require several major gully washer storms to refill the reservoirs where residents of small towns get their water, and those huge storms are not in the forecast.