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Water + Weather for February 2024 Posted on March 13, 2024


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 February.

Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines. February was drier and much warmer than normal for the state. At the end of February, 23 percent of the state was in drought, unchanged from the end of January, and the first month in the last five that drought area did not decrease. Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is 73.5 percent of capacity, up less than a percentage point since the end of January and about 10 percentage points below normal for the time of year. In the next few months, drought is expected to expand in South, Central, and West Texas.

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 February. 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. February temperatures were well above normal. In fact, February 2024 was the third warmest February for the state since 1895. Precipitation in February was near or above normal for only small scattered areas. Overall, the state received only about 80 percent of normal precipitation for the month. Warmer and drier-than-normal conditions for most of the state brought a recent monthly trend of drought contractions to an end.

This is the Drought Monitor map for conditions as of February 27. On this map, 23 percent of the state is in drought, the tan, orange, and red colors; the same amount is shown on the last map of January. February was the first month since September last year that drought did not decrease.

February weather conditions didn't bring much relief to our surface water supply reservoirs either. 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 2023 and 2022 and a red line that shows how we did in 2011. Statewide, surface water supplies ended February at 73.5 percent of capacity. That's a modest 0.8 percentage point increase from the end of January and leaves us more than 10 percentage points lower than normal for the time of year.

What can we expect over the next few months? Here's the latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service for conditions through the end of May. During that time, they expect continued drought expansion in South, Central, and West Texas.

Looking a little farther out, El Niño conditions, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific, are expected to dissipate somewhere between April and June. That's not all bad news; although El Niño is associated with above-average precipitation for Texas in winter months, during the summer, these same conditions can limit the amount of Gulf moisture our state receives. While we wouldn't wish a hurricane on anyone, rainfall from the remnant of a hurricane or tropical storm could be very beneficial for Central and South Texas this summer. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.

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