Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Texas Inching Out of Extreme Drought (For Now)

Map by National Drought Mitigation Center

The latest map of drought in Texas from the U.S. Drought Monitor

It’s Thursday, which means a new drought monitor has been released from the National Drought Mitigation Center, and there’s some good news as Texas heads into the new year:

  • 32 percent of the state is in the highest level of drought, “exceptional,” down from 39 percent just last week and 86 percent of Texas three months ago.
  • 67 percent of Texas is in “extreme” drought or worse, down two percent from last week and 97 percent three months ago.
  • 0.01 percent of Texas is still drought-free. As state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon wrote recently of the small sliver along the Texas-Oklahoma border: “To the thirty or so people living there, I say, “Congratulations!””

The state climatologist writes that while the situation has certainly improved since the summer, the outlook from here isn’t very optimistic:

“After this latch batch of rain and/or snow on Christmas, the large-scale weather patterns will change into a warmer and drier configuration, which should put us back on track with the seasonal outlook and, yes, allow the drought to persist.”

While actual drought conditions show small, steady improvements recently, Nielsen-Gammon points out on his blog that resevoirs, aquifers and lakes are a long ways away from being at “normal” levels.

Here’s a snapshot from lakelevels.info that shows the levels of Lake Buchanan, an important water source for Central Texas. The lake is currently at 988 feet, 30 feet below where it should be and close to the record low of 984 feet set during the drought of record in the 1950s:

Map by Lakelevels.info

Water levels at Lake Buchanan, Texas


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