Date of this Version
Many of the readers of Drought Network News are familiar with the “hydro-illogical cycle” cartoon that I use frequently in presentations and publications. This illustration has been translated into many languages and serves as a constant reminder of the crisis management mentality often displayed in responding to drought emergencies and the proverbial “window of opportunity” following a drought when planning for the next event is of high priority. I hear comments routinely from government officials that recognize the need to plan, but they express hesitancy in moving forward now if water supply conditions are normal or above. The concern is that actions to plan for drought might be viewed by political opponents or the public as misdirected. Politicians certainly do not want to be viewed as placing emphasis and expending resources on what may appear to be an issue that lacks urgency when other crises exist. As drought planners, perhaps we should pray for dry conditions so that proper attention will be given to this important component of water resources planning.
After experiencing droughts in 1996 and 1998, the Southwest and southern Great Plains states are bracing for another dry year in 1999. The long-lead forecasts of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center place considerable confidence in a very dry 3-month period from March through May in this region. Much concern exists in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona about the potential threat of another year of drought. Texas and New Mexico have made considerable progress in drought planning since 1996, and these plans are likely to be tested severely if drought recurs this year.