Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Hurricanes May Be Needed to Help Pull Texas Out of Drought


Some parts of the state may find themselves in the strange position of actually needing hurricanes this summer. Victor Murphy, climate program manager at National Weather Service Southern Region, says tropical storm landfall could be the best hope to get rain to parts of Texas that desperately need it.

Even though much of the state experienced some rain in the past week, 89 percent of Texas remains in a drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map for this week, which includes last week’s rains, actually shows an increase in the percentage of the state suffering from drought.

Even though some areas received as much as four inches of rain, Murphy says the storms kept conditions from worsening, but didn’t improve anything.

“It would take a probably 200 percent increase in rainfall for a two- to three-month period to see any sort of improvement,” Murphy says. That would mean some areas of the state would need up to two feet of rain in the next three months just to get out of the drought.

A drought report from the Texas Water Development Board says statewide reservoir levels are at their lowest levels for this season in 25 years. Murphy says the last 30 months have been the third-driest period for Texas since record-keeping began 1895.

Climate Prediction Center

The Climate Prediction Center shows some drought relief may come for Northeast Texas.

While the NOAA Climate Prediction Center reports likely improvement for the Northeast corner of the state, other parts of Texas may not be so lucky.

“East Texas will probably fare okay, but South and West Texas will probably see a lot of stress on surface water,” Murphy says. “Barring landfall of a hurricane or tropical storm, it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.”

Olivia Gordon is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.


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