The winter of 2014 may be setting or getting close to records for cold temperatures, but precipitation levels remain more of the same.
“Similar to last winter, we’re not getting substantial winter rains to lift reservoir levels before the hot days of summer,” say officials with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) in the weekly drought update.
Drought status includes: “Continued worsening of drought conditions with a slight decrease in reservoir storage. Statewide reservoir levels continue to set record lows for this time of year,” the latest report states. Reservoir levels this low at this time of year have not been seen since 1990.
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Currently, reservoir levels are lower in the west with relatively high levels in the east. Central Texas shows a “continuing long-term degradation of reservoir storage.” Overall, Texas reservoir capacity is at 64 percent full, unchanged from last week and down from 67 percent three months ago and 70 percent this time last year. Normally, reservoir levels are at 81 percent of capacity at this time.
Drought conditions also continue to worsen with 54 percent of the state in moderate to exceptional drought. That’s up two points from last week, four points from three months ago but down from 76 percent a year ago.
Driest conditions continue to show up in the Rolling Plains, near the Oklahoma state line near Vernon, Texas. The Panhandle also shows significant areas rated from severe to extreme drought with a few locations indicating exceptional drought conditions—the worst rating.
East, Central and Far West Texas and the Lower Rio Grande Valley show significant areas tagged as “abnormally dry,” with only small strips considered in severe drought. Several areas in Far West and extreme East Texas show no drought status. A large swath of Central and East Texas is rated from abnormally dry to moderate drought.