This Week in Drought: Slight Improvement, But a Worrying Forecast

Map by NOAA

The latest federal drought forecast doesn't provide much hope for Texas.

The rains that made their way across much of Texas last week were a welcome sight for the state, currently in its third year of drought. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows that drought levels decreased for the first time since October 2012. But they didn’t fall much.

About seven percent of the state is in the worst stage of drought currently, “exceptional,” down from over 11 percent last week. But over 90 percent of Texas remains in some form of drought condition, and the state’s reservoirs are currently only 67 percent full, according to the Texas Water Development Board.

The latest federal three-month drought forecast out today doesn’t bring encouraging news. The drought in Texas is predicted to persist, and develop even further in some regions.

“During the upcoming three months, a much drier pattern is expected across the southern third of the Nation (from central California to the eastern Gulf Coast),” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) writes in the new forecast. “This … marks a change from recent wet conditions in the southern Plains and western Gulf Coast as drought development and persistence is forecast for Texas by the end of April.”

The eyes of Texas are upon the recently-convened state legislature to act to secure more water supplies (and increase conservation). Last week, State Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) filed a bill to allocate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to start a water infrastructure fund that will provide capital for reservoir and development projects in the State Water Plan. One fifth of that bank would go to conservation projects. State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) filed a similar bill in November, proposing to take $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to fund an infrastructure bank.

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