A quick glance at the most recent drought monitor map for Texas shows a lighter shade of drought than has been the case for months.
More yellow, pale orange and beige spots—along with a bit of white in the Far West indicating no drought—show up in contrast to the darker browns and deep reds that have populated the map over the summer and back across the last two years.
However, more than 90 percent of the state remains in some stage of drought, according to the latest update from the Texas Water Development board (TWDB). The report indicates that recent rains “have lessened the intensity of ongoing dry conditions. This report highlights current conditions are not as severe as they were this time in 2011, the worst one-year drought in Texas’ recorded history.”
In fact, a look at that drought monitor map shows almost the entire state depicted in dark colors—indicating extreme to exceptional drought. Most of the state on September 30, 2011, was mostly a brown hue (exceptional drought) with small spots of red (extreme) and five or six small areas colored yellow (abnormally dry), pale orange (moderate) or darker orange (severe drought).
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But not all drought-related issues have improved. “While current drought conditions may be better, from a water supply perspective, key reservoir storage is worse than it was at this time in 2011,” the report states.
Reservoir levels include; Amistad (Lower Rio Grande Valley), 47.2 percent; Choke Canyon (Corpus Christi), 36 percent; Elephant Butte (El Paso), 8.2 percent; Lavon (Dallas), 49.6 percent; Meredith (Lubbock, Amarillo), 0.0 percent; OH Ivie (San Angelo, Midland-Odessa), 15.8 percent; and Travis (Austin), 30.6 percent.
Those levels compared to two years ago show Amistad at 86.8 percent; Choke Canyon at 64.4 percent; Elephant Butte at 10.2 percent; Lavon at 49.7 percent; Meredith at 0.0 percent; OH Ivie, at 20.5 percent; and Travis at 36.8 percent.
Those numbers also indicate that a few reservoirs have been dry or nearly so for more than two years and likely will be for a long time as climatologists indicate that refilling reservoirs depend on much more than “normal” rainfall.