Jump to main content

Water + Weather for August 2022 Posted on September 14, 2022


Dr. Nelun Fernando – Hydrologist, Texas Water Development Board

Hello and welcome. I am Dr. Nelun Fernando and I am a climatologist in the Surface Water Division at the Texas Water Development Board. Today, we will take a look at how drought conditions stood at the end of August and take a peek into drought conditions in the fall and winter seasons. 

Drought peaked in early August, August 9, to be specific. At the height of the drought, abnormally dry or D0 conditions through exceptional drought, that's the D4 category, covered 99.18 percent of the state, with exceptional drought or, the D4 category, covering 29 percent of the state. We saw a dramatic change in drought conditions with the heavy rains that fell from around August 21 onwards.

Next, let's take a look at whether those drought improvements are reflected in the storage of our water supply reservoirs. This chart shows how storage in our water supply reservoirs this year compares to the minimum, maximum, and median values for the day of the year from data going back to 1990. The rains from mid-August seem to have reversed the downward trend we were seeing in reservoir conservation storage from around mid-May onwards. Note how the storage for 2022 was uncannily parallel to total conservation storage in 2011 and only about two percentage points higher than in 2011. While the upward trend of the conservation storage for 2022 is a positive development, it is important to note that storage is still about 10 percentage points lower than what we have typically observed for this time of year.

And what might drought conditions look like as we head into the fall? Here is the drought outlook issued on August 31. We see that much of the state is covered in tan shading. This means that drought remains over much of the state but improves. The light green shading shows areas where drought removal is likely. The good news is that we do not see any area in yellow; those are typically areas where drought development is likely.

And what about La Niña? La Niña conditions are still present and expected to continue through the end of the winter. One thing we know about La Niña winters over Texas is that they tend to be hotter and drier. So, what does this mean for drought? It could mean that the improvements we saw in drought conditions may be temporary. However, there are some mitigating factors.

First, we are heading into what is typically a cooler part of the year, so there will be less evaporative loss from our reservoirs and less water demand, especially for outdoor lawn watering and such. This should keep our reservoir levels from dropping rapidly over the fall. Two, we are still not out of the tropical storm season, even though it has not been as active a season as originally forecast; there can still be some systems that bring beneficial rain.

And that concludes our Water and Weather report for August. Until next time, let's hope we continue to see drought improvements across the state. Thank you.

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