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Texas droughtMarch 1, 2001 — For the past 15 years, droughts in Texas were more frequent and extreme than those in other states, according to NOAA scientists using an analysis method developed by NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

Using data from NOAA's polar-orbiting satellites, the scientists, led by Felix Kogan in Camp Springs, Md., reviewed the major droughts in the United States that occurred from 1985 to 2000. The analysis revealed five large-area major droughts in that time.

"One of the largest droughts, which occurred in 1988, covered the most productive agricultural lands of the Great Plains and the Midwest," Kogan said. "The drought had a major impact on agriculture because it took place in the middle of the growing season."

Droughts in Texas and adjacent areas have had a higher frequency than in other states. During the 15-year period, severe droughts affected up to 80 percent of the states of Texas and Oklahoma; nearly 40 percent of Oklahoma suffered from extreme droughts.

Other scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., performed a similar analysis using surface observations collected during the same fifteen-year period. Their analysis revealed similar results in the Southern Plains. Texas endured more frequent long-term droughts than surrounding states from 1985-2000. Droughts occurred across parts of Texas from 8 to 18 percent of the time during this period, compared to 4 to 10 percent of the time for surrounding states. A slightly greater frequency of droughts occurred in parts of the western U.S., northern Plains and southeast U.S.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Vegetation Index

Year 2000 Droughts

NOAA's Drought Information Center

Media Contact:
Patricia Viets, NOAA Satellite Service, (301) 457-5005