Drought Information

 

Area Lakes Unimpressed with Early November Rain Event

 

 Rainfall - November 4-6, 2014

 

The event produced minimal runoff as much of the slow, steady rain was absorbed by dry soils.
As a result, the reservoir response was a few inches at best.

 

Change in Lake Levels (in Inches) Following Early November Rain Event

 


With the drought now in its 5th year, rainfall during the upcoming cold season
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 Nocona and Lake Ray Hubbard both fell to all-time record low levels this fall.  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.

El Niño conditions are now in place in the equatorial Pacific and are expected to prevail throughout the upcoming 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

U.S. Drought Monitor - North and Central Texas

 


Fire Danger

  

Climatologically, fall is a wet season between the drier summer and winter.  The vegetative growth that typically results from autumn rainfall helps to maintain minimal fire weather concerns well beyond a rain event, but these warm season grasses can serve as fuel for wildfires during the subsequent cold season.  The primary fire season for North and Central Texas generally does not begin until after the first killing freeze, which often occurs during November.  Freezing temperatures send warm season vegetation into dormancy.  Dormant vegetation becomes desiccated and conducive to fire initiation and spread, particularly on days with low humidity and strong winds.

Even though significant fire weather concerns are not anticipated this fall, it is still important to be vigilant about fire usage even if a formal burn ban is not in effect for your area.  Many outdoor activities (such as grilling) involve a risk of starting wildfires.  The National Fire Protection Association estimates that 4200 outdoor fires and another 1500 structure fires result from charcoal grills, causing $30 million in property damage annually.  Avoid 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

 

October rainfall was abundant across portions of Central and East Texas where monthly totals exceeded 5 inches in some locations.  But for much of the region, October totals were below normal, compounding long term deficits.

 

Estimated Precipitation Totals for October 2014

Estimated Precipitation Totals for October 2014

 

Throughout much of the region, year-to-date precipitation totals are below normal.  Deficits over the last 4 years vary widely but exceed 40 inches in many areas.

 

Year-to-Date Departures from Normal Precipitation

Departure from Normal Precipitation (January 1 - October 31, 2014)

Click the image above for the current year-to-date departures from normal precipitation.

 

 

Airport Sites

  October 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - October 2014)
October 2010 - October 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
DFW Airport 2.09 -2.13 -12.82 58 -39.47 73
Waco 5.01 +1.11 -2.25 92 -15.12 89
Dallas Love Field 3.10 -1.69 -13.35 58 -37.86 76
Fort Worth Meacham 1.85 -2.40 -16.40 47 -46.49 69
Dallas Executive 2.96 -1.50 -15.85 54 -50.28 70
Fort Worth Alliance 1.77 -2.42 -14.77 54 -46.03 70
Arlington 2.99 -1.60 -17.07 48 -44.87 72
Denton 2.94 -1.80 -12.06 63 -48.14 70
McKinney 4.12 -0.55 -13.91 59 -51.46 69
Terrell 3.92 -0.64 -13.89 59 -47.28 72
Corsicana 3.72 -0.86 -7.44 77 -28.82 83
Mineral Wells 1.64 -2.09 -10.70 62 -38.54 71

 

Cooperative Observers

  October 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - October 2014)
October 2010 - October 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Alvarado 2.35 -1.80 -12.09 62 -42.29 73
Alvord 3.45 -0.73 -10.29 68 -42.57 72
Aquilla 3.00 -0.92 -7.24 77 -23.18 85
Arlington 2.92 -1.57 -15.09 55 not available
Athens 6.71 +1.75 -7.94 77 -27.58 83
Bardwell Dam 3.13 -1.17 -8.02 75 -31.55 80
Benbrook Dam 2.58 -1.40 -13.54 56 -42.83 71
Bonham 3.73 -1.33 -11.28 71 not available
Bonita 1.98 -2.23 -9.72 70 -37.75 76
Breckenridge 2.02 -1.46 -15.75 41 -37.17 70
Bridgeport 1.42 -2.59 -8.29 73 -38.97 74
Burleson 2.26 -2.04 -11.33 65 -44.09 72
Centerville 4.56 -0.40 -0.51 99 -27.90 84
Cleburne 2.46 -1.43 -9.29 71 -45.27 71
Commerce 3.90 -1.64 -8.38 77 -43.02 81
Cooper 3.65 -0.41 -5.66 84 -30.02 83
Corsicana 4.65 +0.15 -2.36 93 -12.71 92
Cranfills Gap 2.30 -0.96 -10.52 64 -39.42 71
Crawford 5.65 +1.69 -1.59 95 -29.57 78
Cresson 2.38 -1.49 -7.26 76 -31.93 78
  October 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - October 2014)
October 2010 - October 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Decatur 2.32 -2.17 -7.72 78 -42.03 75
Denton 3.06 -1.90 -8.36 75 -41.39 74
Ferris 4.27 -0.21 -11.09 66 -44.85 72
Forestburg 3.21 -1.11 -8.48 73 not available
Fort Worth NWS 2.06 -2.70 -13.55 58 -49.90 69
Frisco 4.34 -0.47 -10.51 70 -41.62 75
Gainesville 3.30 -1.34 -8.92 76 -36.11 80
Goldthwaite 1.72 -1.43 -7.69 72 -33.19 74
Graham 1.72 -2.04 -13.54 52 -39.97 70
Grapevine Dam 2.30 -1.72 -13.44 59 -36.79 77
Greenville 4.08 -1.01 -6.19 83 -40.96 78
Hillsboro 3.01 -1.52 -11.63 65 -42.46 73
Itasca 2.95 -1.72 -6.28 82 -42.74 75
Jacksboro 3.05 -0.81 -10.82 63 -36.56 73
Joe Pool Lake 3.56 -1.34 -14.93 57 -49.43 71
Justin 2.33 -2.20 -13.16 62 -43.10 74
Lake Tawakoni 4.51 -0.27 -10.27 72 -44.43 75
Lavon Dam 3.70 -0.85 -11.35 67 -41.41 75
Marlin 4.98 +0.73 -5.27 84 -26.77 82
Maypearl 2.74 -0.76 -8.06 75 -39.72 75
  October 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - October 2014)
October 2010 - October 2014
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Midlothian 7.79 +3.01 -7.73 78 -49.06 68
Morgan 3.21 -0.41 -10.51 66 not available
Muenster 3.08 -1.27 -9.61 71 -31.52 80
Navarro Mills Dam 3.95 -0.56 -6.79 79 -23.05 86
Palestine 5.93 +0.86 -0.10 100 not available
Paris 4.45 -0.65 -4.48 88 -42.22 78
Proctor Dam 5.52 +2.25 -7.18 75 -28.92 76
Roanoke 2.15 -2.34 -12.59 63 -48.65 71
Rosser 5.07 +0.43 -3.92 88 -29.60 81
Sherman 2.42 -2.87 -13.86 63 -44.16 76
Stephenville 2.89 -0.22 -8.80 68 -22.00 83
Stillhouse Hollow 2.72 -1.25 -8.18 74 -38.74 75
Terrell 4.21 -0.90 -6.50 81 -41.79 76
Thornton 2.84 -1.40 -9.27 71 -19.81 88
Waco Dam 3.90 -0.05 -5.05 83 -22.90 84
Weatherford 2.07 -1.93 -15.26 50 -43.31 71
Whitney Dam 3.09 -0.89 -4.50 85 -27.91 81
Wills Point 4.21 -0.75 -7.86 78 -33.62 81
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
  October 2014 Year-to-Date
(January - October 2014)
October 2010 - October 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 was set in early November before the latest rain event.
  • Lake Ray Hubbard (a water supply reservoir for the city of Dallas) also reached a record low in October and was within 1/4 inch of setting a new record in November before seeing a rise of 3 inches.  The lake has fallen again and set a new record low on November 15.

   

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

425.25 on November 15

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.

Earlier this year, 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 November

Precipitation Outlook for November

 

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.

The threshold for El Niño conditions was met during June, but sea surface temperatures in portions of the central Pacific returned to normal the following month.  Warming ensued during August, and the El Niño threshold has been exceeded again.  Although El Niño conditions have been slow to take hold in the equatorial Pacific, an El Niño event is still expected during the upcoming cold season.  An El Niño Watch remains in effect, but the likelihood of a moderate or strong El Niño has diminished considerably.  Nonetheless, long range outlooks still favor above normal precipitation for the Lone Star State the next several months.

 

3-Month Precipitation Outlooks

Long Range Precipitation Outlooks

 

The precipitation outlooks above show enhanced chances for above normal precipitation throughout the upcoming cold season.  This is consistent with El Niño conditions.  As a result, 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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