Another week of rain, another week of improvement. Statewide reservoir storage is up by more than 600,000 acre-feet, and the latest drought monitor shows the absence of extreme drought in Texas for the first time since November 2010. However, despite all the rain, reservoirs in west and south Texas and the Hill Country continue to remain well below normal.
A few notes from Doc Wentzel:
· Beneficial rainfall continues to improve drought conditions in Texas, as shown in this week’s map from the US Drought Monitor. In the last week, Extreme (D3) Drought disappeared entirely from the state! Severe (D2) or worse drought dropped almost 5½ percentage points to less than 3½ percent of the state. The area of Moderate (D1) or worse drought was down more than 7 percentage points to about 15½ percent of the state, the lowest that number has been since October 2010.
· Statewide reservoir conservation storage was up about 650,000 acre-feet (2.1 percentage points) in the last week. That extends to 13 straight weeks our current run of improvements in statewide reservoir conditions. Current storage is about 13½ percentage points better than this time last year, and only about 6 percentage points below what is considered normal for this time of year. Statewide conservation storage is now at its largest volume since March 2011.
· As of Thursday, May 21st, conservation storage was up in 8 and down in 1 of 9 climate regions with reservoirs across the state. The only decrease this week was in the Trans Pecos region, down 0.6 percentage points. The Low Rolling Plains had the largest increase (5 percentage points) but two other regions (South Central and South) were also up at least 4 percentage points. Three additional regions (High Plains, North Central, and Edwards Plateau) had increases of at least a percentage point. Last year, 8 out of 9 climate regions had storages below normal for this time of year. This year, only four regions (High Plains, Edwards Plateau, South Central, and South) still have storages below what is considered normal.
· Conservation storage (as a percentage of capacity) increased in 14 of the 20 municipal reservoir systems that we track across the state, remained unchanged in 5, and decreased in 1. Wichita Falls had the largest gain, up almost 20 percentage points! Two additional systems (Temple-Killeen and Corpus Christi) were up more than 6 percentage points. Seven additional systems (Midland-Odessa, Abilene, Fort Worth, Dallas, San Angelo, Austin, and Brownsville) were up at least ½ a percentage point. Laredo had the only decrease, down 0.1 percentage points.
A year ago, only 5 systems (Beaumont-Port Arthur, Houston, Nacogdoches, Texarkana, and Tyler) were at normal or better levels for this time of year. Currently, 4 additional systems (Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco) have returned to normal or better conditions. Only one other system (Wichita Falls) looks poised to reach near normal conditions in the next few weeks. Despite recent improvements, that leaves 10 systems (Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, San Angelo, and Temple-Killeen) still well below normal for this time of year.
· The latest Seasonal Drought Outlook from the National Weather Service’ calls for continued improvement in Texas. Through the end of August, they do not anticipate any drought development in the state. All areas currently experiencing drought conditions are expected to see improvements, with only small pockets of drought remaining in Central, North Central, and the Panhandle of Texas by the end of August.