Facing a Dry Record: Looming Drought Threatens Economy - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/19/05

Facing a Dry Record: Looming Drought Threatens Economy

The grass fires. The burn ban. You've already seen the direct effects of the recent dry conditions, but what you may not have realized is that eventually the lack of rain will effect all of us. We're not technically in a drought yet, but if we don't see some rain soon, you could soon feel the effects in your wallet.

"Obviously, if we impact the cotton crop this year then it has economic impacts for the whole region," said John Lipe with the National Weather Service.

We've seen the visual effects dry conditions have had across the South Plains, but the worst could be more than a year away.

"If this drought continues on into May or June, it's going to mean pumping water for our irrigated farmer is going to be very expensive and difficult, and our dry land crops are just not going to have the moisture to germinate and grow the cotton crop for 2006. That could be devastating for our cotton farmers and very very dangerous to the economy of Lubbock and surrounding towns," said Roger Haldenby with Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.

Lubbock's economy is fueled by area agriculture, and without that cash flow the economy could feel the heat.

"When that part of the economy of Lubbock slows down the overall economy of Lubbock slows down as well, so families would see it in the long run rather than the short run," said Haldenby.

But you may see the effects sooner if we don't receive significant rainfall come Spring.

"If they have to water their yards a lot more, they're going to feel it in that aspect," said Lipe.

Right now we are 1.62 inches below normal rainfall for this time of the year, and because of the possibility of La Nina, the Climate Prediction Center is looking at another 60-90 days of below rainfall in our area. But is that really something that we should be concerned about?

"2003 into Jan. 15 of 2004, was one of the dries periods on records. Then in 2004 we ended up with 33.25 inches of rain, which is the second wettest year on record. So just because it's dry now doesn't mean it's going to continue for the rest of the year," said Lipe.

Look Up the Latest Rain Totals for the South Plains
Look up daily National Weather Service recorded rain totals for each county on the South Plains.

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