Over the last few months, temperatures have been unusually warm, and rainfall unusually light.
"We're seeing departures from normal in the Houston area anywhere from 4-to-8 inches. And even some approaching 12 inches."
Brian Fuchs is a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. The latest map from the center shows abnormally dry conditions in parts of Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties. Those abnormally dry conditions cover all of Brazoria, Galveston, Chambers, and Liberty counties. Fuchs says an upgrade could come very soon.
"Without any significant precipitation over the next week or so, I think it would almost be time to start introducing that "D-1" drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor."
Fuchs says two factors are behind the area's dry spell — a quiet tropical storm season in the western Gulf, and a much weaker-than-expected El Nino. That's a warming of the waters in the tropical Pacific. El Nino usually results in stormy conditions in the southern U.S.
This week, NOAA called off its El Nino watch, predicting there will be no meaningful warming or cooling in the Pacific — a phenomenon some refer to as "La Nada."