Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Ask a Climatologist: Is Texas Running Dry?

Texas A&M University

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist

Curious about what state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon has to say about some towns in Texas running out of water? StateImpact Texas put in a call:

Q: StateImpact Texas: There’s this list by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) of towns that are running out of water. Some of them even have a date of a few weeks from now when they’ll run out. Is that possible?

A: John Nielsen-Gammon, State Climatologist: The deadline is a worst case scenario, because the odds of zero rainfall are near zero. The specific dates are pretty good for attention-grabbing, but they’re not realistic projections of when they’ll actually run out of water.

Q: What about a few months from now?

A: If you’re talking three or four months down the road, we’ll get more rain, and each rain event will push the run-out-of-water date further down the road. In individual cases, it really depends on what they’re doing to put in place a fallback measure.

Q: So is there ever a danger of people completely running out?

A: As the drought goes on, I imagine there’ll be emergencies that pop up. The problem will be one of redundancy, where cities will be relying more and more on individual sources and lose their alternatives. Mechanical sources can break, and you can effectively run out of water.


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