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Ask an expert: A climatologist explains La Niña's impact on Texas

According to the National Weather Service, La Niña conditions are currently in place, favoring a warmer and drier pattern across the Lone Star State through the winter and spring. To explore what a La Niña weather pattern means for Texas, we asked Dr. Nelun Fernando with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to describe anticipated weather conditions for the next few months.

What effect does a La Niña pattern typically have on our state?

The influences of El Niño or La Niña events are most pronounced during the winter and spring seasons over Texas. During a La Niña event, the Pacific jet stream (a band of strong winds in the upper atmosphere with associated storm systems) is north of where it typically traverses our state. As a result, we will likely not get the storm systems that we would get if the jet stream was located farther south. Therefore, it is likely that this winter and spring will be drier and warmer than normally expected.

La Niña is also associated with a more active Atlantic hurricane season. This increased activity is because the vertical wind shear (the change in wind speed and direction with height) is weaker during a La Niña year, enabling tropical storms to develop vertically without impediment. We still have more than a month to go in what has been one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record. So, we may see more hurricanes impacting Texans along the coast through November.

How could La Niña conditions impact drought conditions in Texas?

The western part of the state is currently in the throes of serious drought, with 18 counties in West Texas and the Panhandle experiencing exceptional drought. While La Niña may not necessarily be the culprit for the onset of drought in these regions, its presence means little chance of relief in the form of rainfall through winter or early spring.

Warmer temperatures, combined with lower rainfall, in the winter and spring seasons could potentially provide the right mix of ingredients to set the stage for drought persistence, spring drought intensification, and summer heatwaves, as was experienced in the winter-spring of 2010-2011. However, La Niña is not the only factor affecting rainfall between now and next summer. We can say with some certainty, though, that the die is loaded toward drought persistence over West Texas through the winter and possibly through spring.

What does a La Niña pattern mean for our state's water supply?

The majority of our state's major water supply reservoirs are located in the eastern half of the state and, at the end of September 2020, these were in pretty good shape due to the recent rains. However, storage at Elephant Butte Reservoir, which serves El Paso, and in other reservoirs in the Panhandle, West Texas, and Central Texas are even lower than usual for this time of year.

Warmer temperatures and less rainfall in the winter through spring seasons could result in declining reservoir storage due to increased evaporative loss and reduced river flow to all water supply reservoirs in the state. Inevitably, such an impact would be more detrimental to communities relying on water supply from reservoirs already low in storage.

What's the connection between El Niño and La Niña?

You can think of El Niño and La Niña as two faces of the same coin, where the coin is a phenomenon known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (also referred to as ENSO). During an El Niño event, the tropical Pacific Ocean off South America's western coast is warmer than the long-term average. During a La Niña event, or the other side of the coin, that same region is cooler than the long-term average. Temperature changes in the Pacific have huge impacts on weather systems globally.

If sea surfaces are cooler during a La Niña phase, why do we expect warmer temperatures?

Remember how the jet stream and associated storm systems are farther north of their climatological or typically expected positions? This change in the jet stream means that there could be less cloud cover over Texas, and more solar radiation can reach the land surface leading to sensible heating and warmer temperatures.

About Dr. Nelun Fernando

As the Manager of the Water Availability Program at the TWDB, Dr. Fernando is in charge of providing programmatic direction and oversight for the technical assistance provided to the regional water planning process and the compilation of reservoir evaporation data used for water rights permitting and regional water planning. Dr. Fernando has expertise in drought diagnostics and early warning, coastal runoff modeling, and developing actionable climate information for water resource applications.


Town Talk

Friona FCCLA members will be selling Pink Ribbon Cookies at Friday's football game. Each cookie will be $2.00. All proceeds will go to the Parmer County Cancer Coalition. Come out and support this FCCLA project and your Parmer County Cancer Coalition.


This year's "Trunk or Treat" event hosted by the Parmer County Sheriff's Office will take place in the Parmer Medical Center's parking lot. There will be a "Best COVID-19 Mask" contest and a helicopter landing. More details next week. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or just have questions, call the Sheriff's Office.


Parents are encouraged not to take kids door-to-door this year to gather Halloween treats because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Prairie Acres & Friona Heritage Estates will be handing out candy on the lawn beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Halloween day.


St. Ann's Catholic Church of Bovina, Texas will host their annual Turkey Dinner on Sunday, November 1st from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the St. Ann's Parish Hall on 3rd Street in Bovina. They will be serving turkey & dressing, creamed potatoes & gravy, green beans, homemade bread, cranberry sauce, relish plate, desserts, and tea & coffee. Donations will be $12 for adults and $6 for children under 6 years of age. Take-out plates will be available at no additional charge. A quilt made by St. Ann's Society will be raffled off at the dinner.


All Parmer County first responders (city/county/state law enforcement, fire, EMS, etc.) and a guest are invited to a special meal on Thursday, October 29th starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Friona Fire Department just north of the city park. The meal is being provided by the T2-1 Lions Club District Governor Henry Wyckoff of Amarillo. The Friona Noon Lions will help with the serving. Please rsvp to frionastar@wtrt.net or send text to 806-265-5200 if you plan to attend. Thank you!


Election reminders. The Precinct 402 polling location is at the City of Friona Council Chambers at 619 Main in Friona. Also, due to the Texas Legislature, there is no "straight line party voting" this year.


National Principals Month

Each October, National Principals Month recognizes the essential role that principals play in making a school great. Principals set the academic tone for their schools, and it is their vision, dedication, and determination that provide the mobilizing force for achieving student success.

Deidre Osborn


Friona Primary School

Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade

M'Kell Jeter


Friona Elementary School

2nd-5th Grade

Daniel Rosales


Friona Junior High School

6th-8th Grade

Erika Montana


Friona High School

9th-12th Grade


Parmer County Sheriff Randy Geries went back to school last week. Sheriff Geries conducted seminars with each of Mr. Gonzales' junior high classes. Discussion topics included interactions with law enforcement, current events, and procedures to follow when calling 911 to report an emergency.

On Election Day, November 3, voters must vote in their precinct where registered to vote:

Precincts 101 and 202

Senior Citizen's Center

1410 Washington, Friona, TX

Precinct 402

City of Friona, Council Chambers

619 Main St. Friona, TX

Precincts 201 and 303

EMS Building

109 3rd St., Bovina, TX

Precinct 401

Lazbuddie Methodist Church

665 FM 1172, Lazbuddie, TX

Precinct 301

Farwell Community Center

209 9th St., Farwell, TX

Precinct 203

Rhea Community Center, Rhea Community

Hwy FM 2013, 24 Miles NW of Bovina, TX

Precinct 302

Oklahoma Lane Methodist Church

646 FM 1731, Farwell, TX

Early Voting

October 13-30, 2020


Parmer County Courthouse

401 3rd Street

Farwell, Texas 79325



8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Bring photo I.D. when returning absentee ballots to the courthouse

COVID-19 Resources:

Health Protocols for Voters and Elections (English)

County Disaster Declaration (English)

March 16 FISD Letter (English) (Spanish)

March 31 FISD Letter (English) (Spanish)

Letter from City Manager (English) (Spanish)

Friona Community Helpline (English)

2-1-1 Texas Social Services Hotline (English)

Share The Facts about COVID-19 (English) (Spanish)

What You Need To Know (English) (Spanish)

What To Do If You Are Sick (English) (Spanish)

County Clerk PSA (English)

Chamber of Commerce Letter to Businesses (English)

FISD Emergency Resolution (English)

Covid Risk Chart (English)