Anatomy of an Extreme Event - 2011 Texas Drought and Heat Wave

Disclaimer: The analyses presented have are addenda to a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of Climate. Comments are welcome. For more information, contact Dr. Martin Hoerling (

Drought and heat are no strangers to Texas but the scorching summer of 2011 – about 5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than average – smashed previous heat records in the state. A study by NOAA scientists and colleagues shows that La Niña-related sea-surface temperature conditions were the most important factor leading to the drying out in Texas and the U.S. Southern Plains in 2011. The extreme heat, which mostly resulted from such lack of rainfall, was rare but within the range of natural temperature swings. Climate change did increase the chances of breaking state temperature records.

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