With cotton acres already down as a result of dry conditions from the Rio Grande Valley through the Coastal Bend, it should come as no surprise that the National Weather Service’s (NWS) extended summer season forecast is calling for more hot and dry weather across the South Texas coastal region. The news is disheartening for farmers and ranchers who say water reserves statewide already are at their lowest in 25 years.

Both short and long term weather models were published this week by the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi. NWS meteorologist John Metz staged a conference call Apr. 22 with local government representatives, industry leaders and agricultural stakeholders and told the group there is little chance the Pacific will return to El Niño conditions, a development needed, he says, to change dry conditions that have hampered South Texas in recent weeks.

“It’s not good news,” Metz said. “Models indicate we will get little rain heading into the hot months of summer.”

Metz says the Coastal Bend is on a track to receive about 10 fewer inches of rain this year than the average 22 inches, adding to dry conditions that have prevailed over the last two years. He said Texas is entering the dry summer season with less stored water than it has had in at least a quarter century.

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The Coastal Bend relies on Choke Canyon and Lake Corpus Christi to provide water to Corpus Christi municipal users as well as to industrial and agricultural users. But the reservoir system is currently below 35 percent combined capacity.

“That’s more than 16 percent less than the same time last year, or about 160,000 acre-feet short of where we were last year at the end of April,” Metz said.

The City of Corpus Christi is set to enter a stage 3 drought management plan next month, further limiting residential and commercial irrigation. Officials at the Nueces River Authority say most irrigation districts have already notified farmers of expected water shortages into the summer months.