Drought Information

 

 U.S. Drought Monitor - North and Central Texas

  


With the drought now in its 5th year, rainfall this winter will be crucial for the region's reservoirs.

 

Although the agricultural drought has seen occasional reprieves, the hydrologic drought has steadily worsened across much of the region.  Nearly 30 feet below conservation, Hubbard Creek Reservoir is only 14% full.  Also in the Brazos basin is Lake Palo Pinto, which is at only 10% of its conservation volume.  Lake Ray Hubbard (Trinity basin) is currently at its all-time record low level.  Autumn rainfall has provided minimal runoff for area reservoirs, emphasizing how much more rainfall is needed.

The worst drought conditions are impacting the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and areas to the west.  Conditions range from abnormally dry (D0) in Central and East Texas to exceptional drought (D4) from the Metroplex westward to the Possum Kingdom area.  On September 24, Possum Kingdom Lake bottomed out at 983.74 feet above sea level, its lowest level since 1971.

Sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific exceeded the threshold for El Niño conditions in mid-October, and there has been additional warming since.  El Niño conditions are expected to remain in place throughout the winter.  As a result, long range outlooks favor above normal precipitation, which could help ease drought conditions across the region.  However, a moderate or strong El Niño is unlikely, which may reduce the chances for significant drought relief.

  


Current Drought Conditions

  

U.S. Drought Monitor

U.S. Drought Monitor - Texas

 


Fire Danger

  

Multiple freezes have already occurred regionwide, sending warm season vegetation into dormancy.  These perennials, particularly grasses, can serve as fuel for wildfires throughout the cold season.  The dormant vegetation becomes desiccated and conducive to fire initiation and spread, particularly on days with low humidity and strong winds.

Even if a formal ban is not in effect for your area, it is still important to be vigilant about fire usageAvoid open flames near dry vegetation, and assure all coals and embers are fully extinguished.

 

Texas Outdoor Burn Bans

Keetch-Byram Drought Index

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is a drought statistic specifically designed to assess fire danger.

 


Agricultural Impacts

 

Texas Crop Condition and Progress Report
audio clip of report

U.S. Agriculture in Drought

 


Precipitation Deficits

 

November precipitation totals exceeded normal values across much of Central Texas and western portions of North Texas.  But across North Central and Northeast Texas, November was yet another month with insufficient rainfall.  For DFW Airport, the autumn precipitation total (September-November) was firmly in the driest tercile, the driest third of historical data. 

Throughout much of the region, year-to-date precipitation totals are below normal.  At DFW Airport, where there has been only one month this year (August) with above normal precipitation, the year-to-date total (through the end of November) was the 12th driest in 116 years of records.

Deficits over the last 4 years vary widely but exceed 40 inches in many areas. 

 

 

Airport Sites

  November 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - November 2014)
October 2010 - November 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
DFW Airport 2.13 -0.58 -13.40 60 -40.05 74
Waco 2.68 -0.14 -2.39 93 -15.26 90
Dallas Love Field 2.12 -0.76 -14.11 59 -38.62 76
Fort Worth Meacham 2.73 0.00 -16.40 51 -46.49 69
Dallas Executive 1.53 -1.45 -17.30 54 -51.73 70
Fort Worth Alliance 2.72 +0.19 -14.58 58 -45.84 71
Arlington 1.89 -0.70 -17.77 50 -45.57 72
Denton 1.82 -1.07 -13.13 63 -49.21 69
McKinney 1.39 -1.70 -15.61 58 -53.16 68
Terrell 2.08 -1.25 -15.14 60 -48.53 72
Corsicana 2.42 -1.45 -8.89 76 -30.27 82
Mineral Wells 4.07 +1.91 -8.79 71 -36.63 73

 

Cooperative Observers

  November 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - November 2014)
October 2010 - November 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Alvarado 1.30 -1.66 -13.75 60 -43.95 72
Alvord 3.15 +0.84 -9.45 72 -41.73 73
Aquilla 2.23 -0.52 -7.76 77 -23.70 84
Arlington 2.24 -0.42 -15.51 57 not available
Athens 3.58 -0.16 -8.10 79 -27.74 85
Bardwell Dam 2.50 -0.75 -8.77 75 -32.30 80
Benbrook Dam 2.39 -0.27 -13.81 58 -43.10 71
Bonham 1.76 -1.61 -12.89 70 not available
Bonita 3.38 +0.95 -8.77 75 -36.80 77
Breckenridge 3.72 +2.16 -13.59 52 -35.01 72
Bremond 5.78 +2.51 -6.39 82 -29.19 82
Bridgeport 3.47 +1.27 -7.02 79 -37.70 74
Burleson 2.72 +0.14 -11.19 68 -43.95 72
Centerville 4.85 +1.05 +0.54 101 -26.85 85
Cleburne 2.35 -0.45 -9.74 72 -45.72 71
Corsicana 3.06 -0.24 -2.60 93 -12.95 92
Cranfills Gap 2.29 -0.05 -10.57 67 -39.47 72
Crawford 2.89 -0.16 -1.75 95 -29.73 80
Cresson 2.30 -0.47 -7.73 77 -32.40 78
  November 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - November 2014)
October 2010 - November 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Decatur 3.08 +0.22 -7.50 80 -41.81 75
Denton 2.19 -0.71 -9.07 75 -42.10 74
Forestburg 3.22 +0.99 -7.49 77 not available
Fort Worth NWS 2.83 +0.09 -13.46 61 -49.81 69
Frisco 2.04 -1.17 -11.68 69 -42.79 75
Gainesville 2.57 -0.41 -9.33 76 -36.52 79
Goldthwaite 3.23 +1.18 -6.51 78 -32.01 75
Graham 3.69 +1.80 -11.74 61 -38.17 71
Grapevine Dam 2.27 -0.67 -14.11 60 -37.46 76
Greenville 1.35 -2.66 -8.85 79 -43.62 77
Hillsboro 2.35 -0.49 -12.12 66 -42.95 73
Itasca 2.07 -1.18 -7.46 80 -43.92 74
Jacksboro 3.11 +0.82 -10.00 68 -35.74 74
Joe Pool Lake 2.12 -1.19 -16.12 58 -50.62 71
Justin 2.17 -0.75 -13.91 63 -43.85 73
Lake Bridgeport 3.22 +0.90 -15.32 55 -41.53 72
Lake Tawakoni 1.86 -2.39 -12.66 69 -46.82 75
Lavon Dam 1.22 -2.33 -13.68 63 -43.74 74
Marlin 2.85 -0.30 -5.57 84 -27.07 83
  November 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - November 2014)
October 2010 - November 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Maypearl 2.10 -0.79 -8.85 75 -40.51 75
Midlothian 1.83 -1.36 -9.09 76 -50.42 71
Morgan 2.53 -0.27 -10.78 68 not available
Muenster 3.06 +0.55 -9.06 74 -30.97 80
Navarro Mills Dam 2.98 -0.13 -6.92 81 -23.18 86
Palestine 4.22 -0.02 -0.12 100 not available
Paris 1.58 -3.10 -7.58 82 -45.32 77
Proctor Dam 4.39 +2.26 -4.92 84 -26.66 80
Rainbow 2.60 +0.42 -2.09 93 -17.01 87
Roanoke 2.26 -0.96 -13.55 64 -49.61 71
Rosser 2.82 -0.58 -4.50 88 -30.18 82
Sherman 2.05 -1.65 -15.51 62 -45.81 75
Stephenville 4.60 +2.51 -6.29 79 -19.49 85
Stillhouse Hollow 3.60 +0.66 -7.52 78 -38.08 75
Terrell 1.96 -1.90 -8.40 78 -43.69 76
Thornton 5.41 +2.06 -7.21 79 -17.75 89
Waco Dam 2.70 -0.33 -5.38 84 -23.23 85
Whitney Dam 2.03 -0.72 -5.22 85 -28.63 81
Wills Point 2.16 -2.25 -10.11 75 -35.87 81
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
  November 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - November 2014)
October 2010 - November 2014

  

 


Lake Levels

 

The vast majority of reservoirs across North and Central Texas has lost water during the last several months.  Among the lakes that are struggling the most, some have set record low levels this year.

  • The level at Lake Granbury hit an all-time low on June 22 before a deluge in its watershed raised the level by more than 6 feet in just 2 days.  However, the lake has been steadily losing water since the beginning of July and is currently within a couple of feet of setting a new record.
  • Lake Nocona (Montague County) reached an all-time record low of 813.61 feet above sea level on October 10 before rainfall raised the lake level by 4 inches.  A new record low of 813.41 was set in early November.  The lake fell to 813.43 on November 19 and remained around 813.43 on November 21 before another rain event.
  • Lake Ray Hubbard (a water supply reservoir for the city of Dallas) is currently at its all-time record low level.

   

Record Low Lake Levels Set in 2014

 

new record low set this year

record low before the current drought

year dam was completed

Lake Granbury

681.48 on June 22

685.28 in August 1978

1969

Lake Nocona

813.41 on November 4

816.95 in October 2000

1960

Lake Ray Hubbard

425.04 on December 5

429.72 in October 2000

1969

 

For current lake level information (including pool height, departure from conservation pool height, and percent of conservation volume), visit Water Data for Texas.

  

Water Restrictions

 

On November 1, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) returned to Stage 3 water restrictions, which limits landscape watering to once every 2 weeks.  Sprinklers and other irrigation systems are prohibited between 10 am and 6 pm.  The elevated restrictions will remain in effect through the end of March.  The NTMWD serves 1.6 million customers east and northeast of the city of Dallas.

In April 2014, the Fort Worth City Council made permanent its twice-per-week limit on landscape watering.  Only hand watering is allowed between 10 am and 6 pm.  Arlington, also within the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) service area, has similar restrictions but is not ready to make them permanent.  Dallas is also continuing its twice-per-week limit.  Since water restrictions vary considerably throughout the Metroplex, residents should keep informed with the current guidelines from their municipality or water utility provider.

Voluntary conservation continues for both Waco and Temple/Killeen.  However, water restrictions remain in effect for some communities within McLennan County and Bell County.

The Brazos River Authority (BRA) is asking customers within the Upper Brazos Basin, as well as areas as far downstream as Whitney, to reduce usage by 10%.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) maintains a list of water restrictions across the state.

 


Outlooks

  

Precipitation Outlook for December

Precipitation Outlook for December

 

These outlooks present the likelihood of receiving a precipitation total that differs significantly from normal.  Green areas denote parts of the country with an increased chance of being in the wettest tercile, or the wettest third of historical data.  Similarly, brown areas denote parts of the country that are projected to have an elevated chance of being in the driest tercile.  Where neither color is shaded, there is no strong signal to determine an accentuated chance of being in either the driest or wettest tercile.  This does not mean that near normal precipitation is expected, but simply that the period is just as likely to be in the wettest tercile as it is to be in the driest tercile.

 

Sea surface temperatures in the north Pacific have been warmer than normal throughout 2014, but the equatorial Pacific was slow to follow suit. However, El Niño conditions have been in place since mid-October, and enhanced warming throughout the central Pacific suggests a shift to El Niño has finally occurred.  The likelihood of an El Niño event this winter has increased to 65%.

Outlooks for the winter months continue to favor above normal precipitation.  Based on previous El Niño events, the prospects for enhanced precipitation are greater toward the Gulf coast.  The wet signal is strong in Central Texas but is much less significant along the Red River and in western portions of North Texas.  The strength of El Niño may also play a role, with weaker El Niño events having precipitation totals closer to normal.  Based on current model projections, a moderate or strong El Niño is unlikely.

Outlooks for the winter also favor cooler than normal temperatures.  It is important to emphasize that these are based on multi-month average temperature projections, which can mask important details.  Previous El Niño events showed a similar gradient in temperature anomalies from south to north, with Central Texas having a stronger cool signal than areas along and north of the I-20 corridor. Despite the cooler than normal temperatures over the long term, due primarily to enhanced precipitation and associated cloud cover reducing daytime temperatures, predominant zonal flow actually reduces the incidence of arctic intrusions.  As a result, extreme cold is less likely during El Niño winters, and there are typically fewer freezes than normal.

 

3-Month Precipitation Outlooks

Long Range Precipitation Outlooks

 

With these outlooks favoring above normal precipitation throughout the winter, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook projects some easing of drought conditions across North and Central Texas.

 

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

 


 Drought Links

 

 National Integrated Drought Information System

 National Drought Mitigation Center

  Drought Impact Reporter

  Precipitation Estimates

 

 

 


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