Chances of an El Niño weather pattern emerging sometime this summer are looking better. The National Weather Service suggests a 70 percent chance that El Niño conditions will come this summer; that percentage increases to 80 percent by fall or winter.

That encouraging tidbit is only part of a promising update released today by the Texas Water Development Board. The latest Texas drought update shows continued improvement across the state, “especially in the High Plains,” the report says. “And for the first time since May, 2011, Lake Meredith in the Panhandle has water in its conservation pool and is now 0.1 percent full.”

All the news is not as promising, however. The report indicates that almost 70 percent of the state remains in drought with many reservoirs still far below normal for the time of year.


The numbers show: 69 percent of the state currently in moderate to exceptional drought, a 1 percent increase from last week and up from 63 percent three months ago but down from 84 percent this time last year.

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The map shows less dark red and brown areas in the Texas Panhandle than has been the case for most of the year, but significant portions of the Texas Plains remain in extreme or exceptional drought with the rest in severe drought status.

Most of Central Texas and a significant portion of the western edge of the Texas Panhandle remain in severe drought status. A narrow strip of East Texas, along the Louisiana line and running from South Central Texas up to the Oklahoma line, is considered drought-free, as is one or two counties in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Most of the Valley is rated abnormally dry. Most of Northeast Texas is in moderate drought status with a significant number of counties considered abnormally dry. Far West Texas ranges from abnormally dry to severe drought.