Drought Information

  

U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook

 


With El Niño on the wane, North and Central Texas must pin their hopes on spring rainfall.

 

Although sea surface temperature anomalies in the equatorial Pacific are still near the threshold for El Niño, the atmosphere refuses to behave as if an El Niño event were ongoing.  Projections suggest that this winter will fail to meet the minimum criteria for an El Niño event.  The precipitation totals across the region certainly bear more resemblance to an ENSO-neutral winter, which 2014-2015 is likely to be.  With little to suggest that the dying breaths of these El Niño conditions will enhance precipitation amounts across Texas, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook is portending a continuation (or intensification) of the ongoing drought conditions across North and Central Texas.

Exceptional drought (D4) persists from Fort Worth and Granbury westward to the Possum Kingdom area.  The hydrologic drought remains among the worst on record for the Upper Brazos Basin.  Nearly 30 feet below conservation, Hubbard Creek Reservoir is less than 14% full.  Nearby Breckenridge received only half of its normal precipitation during 2014, the driest of 7 consecutive years with below normal precipitation.  Also in the Brazos basin is Lake Palo Pinto, which is less than 9% of its conservation volume.  Some communities in Palo Pinto County are within weeks of running out of water.

January precipitation has exceeded normal values throughout the region, but much more rainfall is needed.  The spring rainy season will need to be fruitful to avoid another summer with serious hydrologic issues.

  


Current Drought Conditions

  

U.S. Drought Monitor

 

U.S. Drought Monitor - North and Central Texas

 

U.S. Drought Monitor - Texas

 


Fire Danger

  

Warm season vegetation is dormant, and these perennials, particularly grasses, can serve as fuel for wildfires throughout the cold season.  Even soon after a rain event, this dormant vegetation can quickly become 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

 

Annual precipitation totals for 2014 were below normal across nearly all of North and Central Texas.  Some locations in exceptional drought (D4) received only half of normal precipitation during the year.  A handful of locations were close to normal, including Centerville where no drought designation remains.

DFW Airport recorded a 5th consecutive calendar year with below normal precipitation, 2014 being the driest of the five.  With only 75% of normal precipitation 2011-2014, DFW missed a year's worth of precipitation during the last 4 years.  Some locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex were even drier:  both Fort Worth Meacham and Arlington recorded less than 20 inches of precipitation the entire year, equivalent to only half their normal annual totals.

 

 

Airport Sites

  2014
Annual Precipitation
4-Year Precipitation
(2011-2014)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
DFW Airport 21.32 -14.82 59 -36.70 75
Waco 30.09 -4.60 87 -10.81 92
Dallas Love Field 22.48 -15.09 60 -34.33 77
Fort Worth Meacham 18.56 -17.53 51 -42.04 71
Dallas Executive 21.57 -18.98 53 -48.02 70
Fort Worth Alliance 21.30 -16.14 57 -42.49 72
Arlington 18.97 -19.33 50 -42.56 72
Denton 23.36 -15.00 61 -45.57 70
McKinney 22.65 -17.39 57 -50.59 68
Terrell 25.05 -15.96 61 -44.72 73
Corsicana 29.07 -11.10 72 -26.28 84
Mineral Wells 22.60 -9.45 71 -31.12 76

 

Cooperative Observers

  2014
Annual Precipitation
4-Year Precipitation
(2011-2014)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Alvarado 22.10 -15.29 59 -40.09 73
Alvord 25.68 -10.89 70 -38.40 74
Aquilla 26.84 -9.59 74 -19.77 86
Arlington 21.96 -17.20 56 not available
Athens 31.98 -10.82 75 -23.42 86
Bardwell Dam 27.83 -11.03 72 -29.63 81
Benbrook Dam 20.86 -14.73 59 -39.26 72
Bonham 31.73 -14.39 69 not available
Bonita 26.93 -10.40 72 -34.95 77
Breckenridge 15.36 -14.33 52 -32.15 73
Bremond 30.98 -7.83 80 -22.28 86
Bridgeport 26.73 -8.18 77 -32.89 76
Burleson 24.37 -12.68 66 -40.54 73
Centerville 41.28 -1.32 97 -20.04 88
Cleburne 25.80 -11.20 70 -42.36 72
Commerce 31.34 -13.18 70 -39.91 78
Cooper Dam 34.31 -10.03 77 -30.42 83
Corsicana 35.37 -4.47 89 -9.01 94
Cranfills Gap 21.78 -12.37 64 -35.78 73
Crawford 31.89 -3.45 90 -24.05 83
Cresson 27.18 -8.24 77 -27.67 80
Decatur 31.41 -8.98 78 -37.57 76
  2014
Annual Precipitation
4-Year Precipitation
(2011-2014)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Denton 27.85 -10.69 72 -38.57 75
Ferris 26.33 -12.92 67 -41.25 74
Forestburg 26.37 -9.16 74 not available
Fort Worth NWS 22.61 -14.74 61 -45.75 70
Frisco 27.65 -13.44 67 -39.42 76
Gainesville 31.40 -10.92 74 -34.81 80
Goldthwaite 22.80 -7.92 74 -28.08 77
Graham 19.41 -12.60 61 -34.91 72
Grapevine Dam 22.48 -15.70 59 -33.63 78
Greenville 35.76 -9.32 79 -41.04 77
Hillsboro 24.67 -14.25 63 -38.25 75
Itasca 31.12 -9.56 76 -37.65 77
Jacksboro 22.63 -10.98 67 -31.33 76
Joe Pool Lake 23.84 -17.13 58 -48.74 70
Justin 24.55 -15.26 62 -40.09 75
Lake Bridgeport 19.52 -16.66 54 -36.61 74
Lake Tawakoni 29.49 -14.38 67 -44.33 75
Lavon Dam 25.78 -14.88 63 -41.26 75
Lewisville Dam 21.75 -16.81 56 not available
Marlin 31.00 -7.79 80 -22.27 86
Maypearl 27.82 -10.70 72 -36.93 76
Midlothian 29.80 -11.25 73 -46.32 72
  2014
Annual Precipitation
4-Year Precipitation
(2011-2014)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Morgan 24.52 -12.05 67 not available
Muenster 27.63 -10.33 73 -29.24 81
Navarro Mills Dam 30.16 -9.00 77 -21.43 86
Nix Store 25.26 -7.21 78 -23.97 82
Palestine 42.20 -2.93 94 not available
Paris 38.52 -8.21 82 -41.03 78
Proctor Dam 26.87 -5.75 82 -22.37 83
Rainbow 27.86 -3.19 90 -14.15 89
Roanoke 25.19 -15.11 63 -45.20 72
Rosser 34.52 -5.49 86 -26.29 84
Sherman 26.72 -17.20 61 -42.11 76
Stephenville 24.63 -6.98 78 -16.36 87
Stillhouse Hollow 27.38 -9.66 74 -33.63 77
Terrell 32.73 -9.52 77 -39.24 77
Thorndale 30.29 -5.27 85 -22.65 84
Thornton 29.54 -8.68 77 -12.21 92
Trenton 27.93 -15.98 64 -44.58 75
Waco Dam 28.70 -7.54 79 -19.30 87
Weatherford 17.27 -18.16 49 -40.01 72
Whitney Dam 29.21 -7.22 80 -23.84 84
Wills Point 31.55 -12.20 72 -32.86 81
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
  2014
Annual Precipitation
4-Year Precipitation
(2011-2014)

 

January precipitation totals have been above normal throughout the region.  Many locations have had double normal values.

 

Radar-Estimated Precipitation for January

Radar-Estimated Precipitation for January

 


Lake Levels

 

The vast majority of reservoirs across North and Central Texas has lost water during the last several months.  Recent rainfall has provided minimal runoff for area reservoirs, emphasizing how much more rainfall is needed.  Among the lakes that are struggling the most, some have set record low levels in recent months.

  • 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 lost most of that gain and is currently only around a foot above that record.
  • Lake Nocona (Montague County) reached an all-time record low of 813.20 on December 31.  With January precipitation, the lake has recovered some but only by a few inches.
  • Lake Ray Hubbard (a water supply reservoir for the city of Dallas) reached a new record low on December 14, but the lake has risen by 6 inches since then.

   

Record Low Lake Levels Set Recently

 

new record low set recently

record low before the current drought

year dam was completed

Lake Granbury

681.48 on June 22, 2014

685.28 in August 1978

1969

Lake Nocona

813.20 on December 31, 2014

816.95 in October 2000

1960

Lake Ray Hubbard

424.89 on December 14, 2014

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 February-March-April

Precipitation Outlook for February-March-April

 

Precipitation Outlooks for Spring and Summer

Precipitation Outlooks for Spring and Summer

 

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.

 

With little to suggest precipitation totals will be above normal the next several months, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook projects that the ongoing drought conditions across North and Central Texas will persist or worsen.  As a result, the hydrologic drought is expected to persist into the upcoming warm season.

 

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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