Texas drought recedes a little, but many reservoirs remain low

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The drought may be far from gone, but from all indications it has been pushed back somewhat in the last couple of weeks, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and other sources.

The National Weather Service’s precipitation analysis shows all but extreme South Texas and Far West Texas received one to six inches and more of rain in the past two weeks. In some isolated instances, the rainfall totals were 10 inches or more.

About half the state remains in severe to exceptional drought, according the U.S. Drought Monitor report of May 29, but the percentage under exceptional drought conditions dropped from 25 percent to about 11 percent since May 20. Extreme drought percentages dropped about 8 percent.

Though the recent rains as well as moisture received during the last six months have been helpful to agriculture, they haven’t done much to replenish water reservoirs, according to Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer, College Station.

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“In the watersheds where we have the most critical shortages, such as the Colorado River, we didn’t get much relief,” Fipps said. “In the last weather pattern, the counties that got the heaviest rains are closer to the Gulf. Unfortunately, in those areas the runoff doesn’t go to any major reservoirs. Most of the reservoirs depend on rainfall in West Texas, the Hill Country or Northwest Texas.”

According to the Texas Water Development Board, the state’s reservoirs, taken as a whole, are about 67 percent full. But this average is skewed by many large reservoirs east of Interstate 45 being 80 to 100 percent at capacity. West of I-45, it’s a different picture, with most reservoirs being nearly empty or at critically low levels.

Other than imposing water-use restrictions, there’s not much these communities can do but cross their fingers and hope for rain soon, Fipps said. But it’s unlikely they will see relief anytime soon.

“We’re getting into our summer weather pattern now,” he said. “In the summertime, we generally don’t get widespread, slow, soaking rains that contribute to reservoirs. We tend to get more spotty stuff and brief thunderstorms.”

More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://agrilife.tamu.edu/drought/.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled summaries for the encompassing May 27 through June 2 here.


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