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Water + Weather for April 2023 Posted on May 09, 2023


Dr. Mark Wentzel – Hydrologist, Texas Water Development Board

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Texas Water Development Board’s latest Water and Weather report. I'm Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist in the surface water division here at the agency. And today, we'll be taking a look at conditions for our state at the end of April 2023. Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines.

Temperatures were cooler than normal for most of the state in April. Statewide, precipitation was about average for the month, but conditions varied widely within the state from above average in East and coastal Texas to well below average in West Texas and the Panhandle. Drought conditions contracted from covering 67 percent of the state at the end of March to 55 percent at the end of April. Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is 75.8 percent of capacity, eight percentage points below normal for this time of year.

Let's take a closer look at temperature and precipitation. On these maps, we're looking at both parameters relative to what is considered normal for April. From a water supply perspective, reds, oranges, and yellows mean trouble on both maps. They show areas with above-average temperature on the left and below-average precipitation on the right. Temperatures were cooler than normal for most of the state in April. Precipitation varied considerably, with half the state, East and coastal Texas, experiencing well-above-average rainfall, while the other half, West Texas and the Panhandle, received well-below-normal precipitation. 

April rainfall has helped improve drought conditions in some parts of the state. The drought map for conditions as of April 25 shows 55 percent of the state impacted by drought, down 12 percentage points since the end of March. Drought has been significantly reduced along the Texas coast, but most of the central part of the state from Laredo to the Panhandle is still experiencing moderate or worse drought. 

Unfortunately, April rainfall hasn't brought much improvement to our water supply reservoirs. The dark line on this chart shows how storage in our water supply reservoirs this year compares to minimum, maximum, and median values for the day of the year from data going back to 1990. Also displayed are lighter lines that show how we did in 2022 and 2021 and a red line that shows how we did in 2011. During the month of April, we gained about one-and-a-half percentage points of additional storage. Why such a modest increase? Most of April's rainfall fell in East Texas, where reservoirs are already full or nearly full, or along the coast, where there are few reservoirs to capture runoff. In coming months, we'll need additional rainfall in Central and West Texas to make further progress on refilling our water supply reservoirs.

What can we expect over the next few months? According to the latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service, drought relief should gradually expand to Central Texas by the end of July. Looking a little farther out, El Niño conditions, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, are expected by fall. Those conditions typically bring above-average precipitation to Texas and should lead to widespread drought relief by the end of the year. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.

This article is posted in Weather / Drought / Water Supply .