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Water + Weather for February 2023 Posted on March 06, 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 Wenzel, 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 February. Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines

February 2023 brought above-average rainfall to north Central Texas, but below-average precipitation prevailed in the rest of the state. Drought conditions have expanded from covering 53 percent of the state at the end of January to 62 percent at the end of February. Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is 75.1 percent of capacity, up about 2 ½ percentage points from the end of last month but still about nine percentage points below normal for this time of year. Both drought and water supply conditions are much improved in East and north central Texas.

Let's take a closer look at temperature and precipitation in February. On these maps, we're looking at both parameters relative to what is considered normal for the month. 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 warmer than normal for most of the state in February. Most areas also had below-normal precipitation. But the Big Bend area in West Texas, and most of north central Texas, experienced above-average precipitation. The February rainfall pattern definitely had an impact.

Let's take a closer look at drought conditions across the state. The drought map for conditions as of February 28 shows 62 percent of the state impacted by drought, up nine percentage points since the end of January. Thanks to above-average rainfall in East Texas in January and north central Texas in February, drought was nearly eliminated in those areas. But drought continues to expand and intensify in the rest of the state.

From a water supply perspective, we're seeing additional evidence that drought is easing across north central Texas. This graph shows combined storage for the 52 largest water supply reservoirs in the North Central Climate Region. The darker line on the far left shows storage by day of the calendar year for 2023 relative to 2022 and 2021, the lighter lines, and maximum, median, and minimum values since 1990. The red line shows conditions during 2011, the worst one-year drought in the last century. Over the month of February, water supply storage in the north central region increased almost four percentage points, equivalent to more than a third of a million acre-feet of water. Storage in this region is still below what is considered normal for this time of year.

But things are definitely moving in the right direction. What can we expect over the next few months? The latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service is optimistic for East and north central Texas. Through the end of May, that part of the state is expected to remain drought-free. Unfortunately, drought is expected to expand in the rest of the state. 

However, with the anticipated breakup of La Niña conditions later this year, there is some hope that the rest of Texas may see at least some easing of drought conditions as early as May. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.



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