Texas A&M Climatologist Says Drought Could Last Until 2020

But meteorologists say there's no way to predict that far into future

A Texas A&M climatologist has predicted a dire forecast for Texas over the next decade.

John Nielsen-Gammon said the state could remain in a drought until 2020 because of warmer temperatures in the Atlantic ocean and cooler temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said they understand the science behind the theory but said there no way to predict weather that far into the future.

"It's hard to say over, like, a decade what's going to happen, but at least it looks like through early 2012 we're likely to see drier than average conditions, which just means more drought for Texas," said Dennis Cavanaugh of the NWS.

Farmers across North Texas have been watching their crops wither in dry weather. In some cases, they say it's hardly worth it to plant seed.

"I thought 2006 was dry. This has even been worse than that," said Charles Huddleston, who farms land in northern Collin County. "It's hard to justify putting that expense in the ground when you really don't have much prospect of it coming up."

North Texas has gotten so little rain that farmers are lucky to get 60 percent of what's planted.

And the North Texas Municipal Water District has already activated it's Stage 3 drought plan, significantly limiting outdoor watering for its 1.6 million customers.

Huddleston said there's simply no way to irrigate or haul enough water for farmland for crops or ranches for cattle. He said he's aware of a number of farmers who are thinking of simply giving up and selling their lands to developers.

"All we can do is put the seed in the ground and ask God to send the rain," he said.

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