The good news on drought relief keeps rolling in, just like all these weather fronts! This week’s Drought Monitor shows the complete absence of exceptional drought, the first time that’s happened since July 2012. Twelve out of 14 reservoirs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are now full. And with the promise of El Niño conditions through the end of the year, more rainfall and cooler temperatures are expected at least through Christmas.
Some notes from Dr. Wentzel:
· Beneficial rainfall over some of the hardest hit areas of Texas (especially the Panhandle and North Central area) resulted in significant improvement in drought conditions, as shown in this week’s map from the US Drought Monitor. In the last week, Exceptional (D4) Drought disappeared entirely from the state. Extreme (D3) or worse drought dropped about 3½ percentage points to less than 2 percent of the state. The area of Moderate (D1) or worse drought was down almost 7 percentage points to less than 23 percent of the state. As measured by the US Drought Monitor, statewide conditions are now at their best since November 2010.
· Statewide reservoir conservation storage was up about 900,000 acre-feet (or 2.8 percentage points) in the last week. That extends to 12 straight weeks our current run of improvements in statewide reservoir conditions. Current storage is about 12 percentage points better than this time last year, but still about 7 percentage points below what is considered normal for this time of year.
· As of Thursday, May 12th, 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 0.5 percentage points. The North Central Region had the largest increase, up 7 percentage points. Four additional regions (High Plains, Low Rolling Plains, South Central, and South) had increases of more than ½ a percentage point.
· 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 and Fort Worth had the largest gains, up 15.5 and 11 percentage points, respectively. Eight additional systems (Amarillo, Midland-Odessa, Abilene, Dallas, Temple-Killeen, Austin, Nacogdoches, and Corpus Christi) were up at least ½ a percentage point. El Paso had the only decrease, down 0.2 percentage points.
· Improvements so far in May seem right on track with the National Weather Service’s Drought Outlook for the month. By the end of the month, they anticipate improvement in all areas of the state impacted by drought and even removal of drought in some areas. No new areas of drought are expected to develop.