Texas Drought Continues to Improve as State Faces Flooding Rains

The latest Drought Monitor was release today, and not surprisingly, drought improvements continue across the south-central United States. While there's still work to do, the state has seen huge improvements over the last 12 months, and more help is on the way.

U.S. Drought Monitor | Texas

Last May, 91.18% of Texas as Abnormally Dry or worse according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. One year later that number has dropped to 35.58%, down from 40.32% a week ago.

In the Extreme and Exceptional drought categories the numbers are equally as promising. A year ago 20% of the state was classified as experiencing Exceptional Drought, a number that for the first time since then has dropped to 0% this week. The second worst drought category "Extreme Drought" has dropped from 39.88% a year ago to 1.93% today.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index, which considers different factors than the Drought Monitory, shows a similar story. From the PDSI site:

The Palmer Drought Severity Index uses temperature and precipitation data to calculate water supply and demand, incorporates soil moisture, and is considered most effective for unirrigated cropland. It primarily reflects long-term drought and has been used extensively to initiate drought relief.

The images below compare last May, 2014 (top) with the latest PDSI available, April 2015 (bottom). Big improvements across New Mexico, Texas, western Kansas and Oklahoma, and eastern Colorado.

Palmer Drought Index | May 2014

Palmer Drought Index | April 2015

And over the last week (note northeast Colorado) Texas continued to see heavy rains.

Palmer Drought Severity Index | May 2015

According to the Texas Water Development Board, the state's reservoirs are now 77.0% full, up from 65% one year ago. Those in the eastern half of the state are generally doing better than across the central third, where greater drought conditions persist.

Texas reservoir status | May 14, 2015

The forecast for the at least the next 10 days remains wet for Texas and really all the Plains states as a series of disturbances are expected to push in from the west. With rainfall totals in excess of >5" expected for many places across Texas and Oklahoma through the period, expect flooding in the region to remain a serious issue for at least the near-term.

GFS Precipitation Forecast | Weather5280 Models

Brendan Heberton

Brendan is founder of Weather5280. He is co-founder of FreshyMap, and develops software for geospatial data analysis and visualization.

Denver, Colorado
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