Jump to main content

Water + Weather for May 2022 Posted on June 06, 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 May.

Let's take a closer look at some of the big water and weather headlines. May was warmer and drier than normal for much of the state; not what we we're hoping for in order to see big improvements in drought conditions. At the end of May, drought conditions covered 78 percent of the state, down four percentage points from the end of April. Storage in our water supply reservoirs is at 78 percent of capacity, six percentage points below normal for this time of year. With summer on the way, drought is expected to expand and cover all but the northeast corner of the state by the end of August.

Temperature and precipitation have a direct impact on water supply and drought. Let's take a closer look at these conditions in May. On these maps, we're looking at temperature and precipitation 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 this May were warmer than normal for the entire state, including record-setting temperatures across most of Central Texas. Except for scattered areas, precipitation was below normal for most of the state.

This May's modest rainfall and high temperatures combined to provide only small improvements in drought conditions across our state. The U.S. Drought Monitor map for conditions as of May 31 shows 78 percent of the state impacted by drought, down four percentage points from the end of April. Every little bit counts, but that little bit of recovery is disappointing considering that May has historically been the wettest month of the year for Texas.

Statewide, our water supply reservoirs are being impacted by drought conditions. 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. Water supply storage has been trending below normal for the time of year since late October last year. Since mid-March, we've had a modest uptick in reservoir storage that continued through April. Unfortunately, we gave back most of those gains in May and are now back to where we were at the end of March, six percentage points lower than normal for the time of year.

Where are things headed? The latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service doesn't look great for Texas. Overall, the National Weather Service anticipates drought conditions will expand to cover most of the state by the end of August. Only the northeast corner of the state is expected to remain drought free. Any chances for drought relief this summer? For the eastern half of Texas, we usually get some showers and a bit of a break from the heat up until the Fourth of July. And the dog days of summer come in after that. Seems like the hounds have shown up early this year. For the western half of the state, monsoon flow from the Pacific can provide some drought relief in July and August.

Overall, it looks like Texas's best chance for some drought relief this summer will be a stray tropical storm or hurricane remnant. This year is predicted to have an active hurricane season with more storms than average, so we should have a few chances for just that. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.    

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