The U.S. Drought Monitor puts out a map every week that updates drought conditions in Texas. This week’s map looked mostly white – which indicates no drought at all – with some peach, orange and red in the center – indicating moderate to exceptional drought.
Last year at this time, only small parts of the state were in the clear. Two years ago, 99 percent of the state was in some level of drought.
“I think what’s really happened is that we’ve transitioned from a drought of statewide proportions to drought conditions that are more localized,” State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says.
Nielsen-Gammon says he’s almost ready to announce that the statewide drought is over. But there’s a big asterisk next to that statement.
“We’ve still got areas that are classified with the most severe drought level available which is exceptional drought – that’s mainly up in northwest Texas around Childress and Wichita Falls and part of the Panhandle and extending down through the Palo Pinto area,” Nielsen-Gammon says. “And severe drought goes all the way south to the Texas Hill Country – and those places have not seen much improvement if any. In fact reservoir levels in a lot of those areas are at their lowest ever for this time of year.”
Nielsen-Gammon says reservoirs and stream flows will probably be the last piece of the puzzle to recover. And he says below average rainfall could put some areas at risk of drought again… though one big flood could also end it altogether.