Following the most severe drought on record, Texas and Oklahoma are entering the 2012 growing season with significantly better moisture conditions. Climatologists believe the transition of La Nina conditions to a more normal weather pattern will help reduce the incidence of drought throughout the southern and southwestern United States.

Much of Texas has experienced abundant winter moisture, and the December-February period statewide was the 11th wettest on record going back 117 years. Unfortunately, that still leaves two-thirds of the state in drought conditions designated as severe or worse. For ranchers, many stock ponds remain low or dry as the rains have not produced sufficient runoff water.

The Houston area has received an abundance of rainfall this winter, and last weekend saw 3 to 5 inches of rain fall on the region, bringing the city’s precipitation total for the year to nearly 16 inches, twice the normal level and a number Houston didn’t reach last year until early November.

Oklahoma has also experienced relief from last year’s scorching drought. From October 2011 to early March central Oklahoma had received about 12.24 inches of rain, or about half an inch above normal for that time period. That compares with the 5.1 inches of rain the region received from Oct. 1, 2010 to Feb. 28, 2011.

Statewide precipitation in Oklahoma was the 30th wettest winter period since 1895, with 6.08 inches of precipitation. Oklahoma also experienced the 11-warmest winter since 1895.

The Oklahoma Panhandle and southwestern Oklahoma, however, remain in devastating drought conditions. The Panhandle area has only received 9 to 10 inches of rain since October 2010, a 17-month period.