Texas

Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

While Drought Improves for Some, Many Texas Reservoirs Fall to New Lows

Courtesy of Texas Water Development Board

Levels on some of the state's reservoirs have reached record lows for this time of year. In general, reservoir levels are lowest in November and December.

Statewide reservoir levels are at their lowest point ever for this time of year, according to National Weather Service Southern Region climate program manager Victor Murphy. Murphy says many reservoir levels have not changed much since November, which is when reservoirs are typically at their lowest.

“Quite honestly we should be higher,” Murphy says. “We should have been seeing improvements and we’ve been flat-lined since about mid January. Absent of any unforeseen major rain events, when summer starts rolling around, we should start to see some drop off in these values.”

In East Texas, reservoir levels have remained steady. Recent rains have also pulled some of the coastal areas completely out of the drought. But much of the rest of the state may not feel relief any time soon.

New maps released this week from the U.S. Drought Monitor show the Texas drought improving slightly. But Murphy says the relief brought by recent rains only took much of the state “from worse to bad.”

“There was a very slight improvement this week across the state as a whole,” Murphy says. “There was additional improvement in the Waco area but this was counterbalanced by the panhandle.”

Murphy says the drought continues to be harsh in deep South Texas as well as in Northwest Texas, from the Big Spring area north. The seasonal drought outlook map, released this week by the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, shows the drought persisting or even intensifying in those areas. And even the severe weather felt this week would not be enough to help.

Those storms, while fatally powerful, ”were too small and had a lot of hail and really didn’t bring any relief,” Murphy says.

He says the biggest takeaway of all of the data would be to follow any water conservation measures put forth by local officials.

Olivia Gordon is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.

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