Drought Information

  

U.S. Drought Monitor - North and Central Texas

 


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 remainder of the winter and into early spring, drought conditions are likely to persist during March and April.  However, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook suggests some improvement could occur in North Texas if normal rainfall occurs during May, climatologically the wettest month of the year.  While normal spring rainfall would certainly help the region's agriculture, the extensive hydrologic drought is unlikely to end before the summer arrives.

Exceptional drought (D4) stretches from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex westward to the Possum Kingdom area.  The hydrologic drought remains among the worst on record for the Upper Brazos Basin.  Over 30 feet below conservation, Hubbard Creek Reservoir is only 13% 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 at only 8% of its conservation volume.

January precipitation totals exceeded normal values across nearly all of North and Central Texas, but February has been dry regionwide.  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 - 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

 

January precipitation totals were above normal across nearly all of North and Central Texas, but long term deficits persist.  Many locations have received only 70-80% of normal precipitation since late 2010.  Deficits over the last 52 months (4 years and 4 months) are in excess of 50 inches at some locations.

  

Airport Sites

  January Precipitation 52-Month Precipitation
(October 2010 - January 2015)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
DFW Airport 3.62 +1.49 -39.98 74
Waco 3.48 +1.36 -16.11 89
Dallas Love Field 4.37 +2.31 -37.29 77
Fort Worth Meacham 3.83 +2.09 -45.53 71
Dallas Executive 4.27 +1.68 -51.73 70
Fort Worth Alliance 3.47 +1.62 -45.78 72
Arlington 3.44 +1.39 -45.74 72
Denton 3.40 +1.48 -49.60 70
McKinney 3.54 +1.00 -53.94 69
Terrell 3.54 +0.77 -48.58 73
Corsicana 3.19 +0.41 -32.07 82
Mineral Wells 2.98 +1.53 -35.76 74

 

Cooperative Observers

  January Precipitation 52-Month Precipitation
(October 2010 - January 2015)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Alvarado 2.52 +0.12 -45.37 72
Alvord 2.56 +1.04 -42.13 73
Antelope 1.89 +0.61 not available
Aquilla 4.50 +2.45 -23.08 85
Arlington 3.73 +1.32 not available
Athens 6.08 +3.10 -27.36 85
Bardwell Dam 3.85 +1.13 -33.43 80
Benbrook Dam 3.10 +1.20 -42.82 72
Bonham 2.12 -0.57 not available
Bonita 2.06 +0.50 -37.93 76
Breckenridge 1.95 +0.51 -35.24 72
Bremond 5.90 +3.29 -27.34 84
Bridgeport 2.38 +0.83 -38.03 74
Burleson 3.67 +1.60 -43.84 72
Centerville 6.77 +3.61 -25.10 86
Cleburne 3.75 +1.51 -45.67 72
Commerce 4.29 +1.91 -45.91 76
Cooper Dam 4.39 +1.39 -33.00 83
Copperas Cove 2.62 +0.75 not available
Corsicana 4.45 +1.81 -13.01 92
Cranfills Gap 3.34 +1.59 -39.68 73
Crawford 3.24 +1.39 -30.04 80
Cresson 3.03 +1.24 -31.67 79
  January Precipitation 52-Month Precipitation
(October 2010 - January 2015)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Decatur 3.12 +1.38 -41.91 75
Denton 2.91 +0.85 -42.87 74
Ferris 4.30 +1.45 -45.23 74
Forestburg 2.74 +1.20 not available
Fort Worth NWS 4.07 +2.23 -48.86 70
Frisco 3.24 +0.79 -43.76 75
Gainesville 2.29 +0.33 -37.78 79
Goldthwaite 2.31 +0.88 -32.54 75
Graham 1.47 +0.24 -38.79 71
Grapevine Dam 3.56 +1.32 -37.73 77
Greenville 3.72 +0.97 -43.12 78
Hamilton 3.68 +1.91 not available
Hillsboro 4.23 +1.84 -43.24 74
Itasca 4.07 +1.82 -44.20 75
Jacksboro 2.24 +0.93 -35.79 75
Joe Pool Lake 4.19 +1.87 -49.76 72
Justin 3.14 +1.14 -44.06 74
Lake Bridgeport 3.31 +1.78 -41.09 73
Lake Tawakoni 4.17 +1.02 -47.97 75
Lavon Dam 3.41 +0.96 -43.98 75
Lewisville Dam 2.44 +0.16 not available
Marlin 4.51 +1.88 -27.41 84
Maypearl 3.51 +1.01 -41.35 75
  January Precipitation 52-Month Precipitation
(October 2010 - January 2015)
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
Midlothian 3.56 +1.01 -51.57 71
Morgan 3.95 +1.57 not available
Muenster 2.80 +1.06 -31.18 81
Navarro Mills Dam 4.70 +2.22 -23.04 86
Nix Store 2.99 +1.26 -29.83 79
Palestine 5.16 +1.50 not available
Paris 3.88 +1.18 -44.77 78
Proctor Dam 3.15 +1.77 -25.72 81
Rainbow 3.70 +1.99 -16.12 88
Roanoke 4.75 +2.68 -48.49 72
Rosser 3.36 +0.47 -30.70 82
Sherman 1.19 -1.28 -48.78 74
Stephenville 2.83 +1.38 -18.80 86
Stillhouse Hollow 3.91 +1.78 -38.44 76
Sulphur Springs 4.61 +1.54 not available
Terrell 3.71 +1.28 -43.53 76
Thorndale 5.62 +3.17 -27.24 82
Thornton 5.45 +2.69 -16.53 90
Trenton 3.05 +0.01 -49.82 74
Waco Dam 2.73 +0.47 -24.92 84
Whitney Dam 4.10 +1.94 -28.69 82
Wills Point 4.41 +1.23 -36.73 81
  observed
amount
departure
from normal
departure
from normal
percent
of normal
  January Precipitation 52-Month Precipitation
(October 2010 - January 2015)

 

 


Lake Levels

 

Evaporation and water usage are at a minimum during the winter months, but recent rain events have provided little 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.

 

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

 

Through at least the end of March, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) will remain in 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 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.  The TRWD is considering Stage 2 water restrictions, which would limit landscape watering to once a week.  Dallas has made permanent its twice-per-week limit, but the restriction on daytime watering does not begin until April 1.  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 BRA's lakes within the Upper Brazos Basin (Possum Kingdom, Granbury, and Whitney) are all in a Stage 2 drought warning.  Proctor Lake, which has fallen below 30% capacity, is in Stage 4 pro-rata curtailment.

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

 


Outlooks

  

There are prospects for some precipitation events during late February and early March, but enhanced chances for above normal rainfall during the spring season are primarily to our west.

 

Precipitation Outlook for March-April-May

Precipitation Outlook for March-April-May

 

Precipitation Outlooks for the Remainder of the Spring and the Upcoming Summer

Precipitation Outlooks for the Remainder of the Spring and the Upcoming Summer

 

Unfortunately for our drought-stricken region, the best chances for above normal rainfall remain to our west during the upcoming summer.  Thankfully, outlooks for the warm season do not favor above normal temperatures.

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.

 

Although the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook projects some potential improvement of the ongoing drought conditions within North Texas, normal spring rainfall will be needed to accomplish this.  Even with some improvement, 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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