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Water + Weather for June 2022 Posted on July 12, 2022


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 June and how those conditions compare to the historic 2011 drought. Let's take a closer look at some of the water and weather headlines.

June was warmer and drier than normal for much of the state, the fourth consecutive month with those conditions. At the end of June, drought conditions covered 86 percent of the state, up eight percentage points from the end of May. Storage in our water supply reservoirs is at 75 percent of capacity, ten percentage points below normal for this time of year. That all adds up to the conclusion that Texas is in a significant drought, the worst since 2011, but not worse than 2011.

Temperature and precipitation have a direct impact on water supply and drought. Let's take a closer look at these conditions, both this year and in 2011. On this chart, we're looking at monthly average precipitation across the entire state for both 2022 in orange and 2011 in red.

Also shown are average monthly statewide rainfall during the twentieth century in black dots and minimum monthly precipitation since 1895 in gray. From January to June of this year, we received a total of 7.8 inches of precipitation, about 60 percent of normal. Bad as that may be, it's better than in 2011 when we received less than six inches in the first half of the year, only about 40 percent of normal.

On this chart, we're looking at monthly average temperatures across the entire state for both 2022 in orange and 2011 in red. Also shown are twentieth century averages in black dots and maximum and minimum temperature records in gray from January to June of this year. Temperatures have been above average five out of six months. That additional heat has certainly contributed to drought, but monthly temperatures in the first half of 2011 were even hotter for four of those six months. In 2011, the real heat came in June, July, and August when we set maximum temperature records each month. Temperatures the rest of the summer and 2022 are expected to be warmer than average, but not to exceed 2011 temperatures.

Low rainfall and high temperature during the first half of 2022 have brought significant drought to our state. The U.S. Drought Monitor map for conditions as of June 28 shows 86 percent of the state impacted by drought, up eight percentage points from the end of May. More of the state is experiencing drought at the end of June this year than for any June since 2011, when 96 percent of the state was in drought.

Our statewide water supply reservoirs are being impacted by the current drought, but not as significantly as in 2011. The dark line on this chart shows how storage 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 2021 and 2020, and a red line that shows how we did in 2011. We began 2022 with water supply storage more than two percentage points lower than normal for the time of year. By the end of June, we've fallen to about ten percentage points lower than normal. In 2011, water supply began the year closer to normal, but fell farther and faster than in 2022. By the end of June, storage was about one and a half percentage points less than this year. In the second half of 2022, we expect additional storage declines, but not as severe as in 2011 when we reached 30-year lows by mid-October.

What's the bottom line? We are in a significant drought, even if it's not as bad as 2011. But the real test won't come this summer or even this year. Our water supply systems are designed to withstand a multi-year event. Will 2022 lead to a multi-year event? It's too early to tell, but it's never too early to conserve water and manage demand. We'll all be better off if we do our part. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.

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