Jump to main content

Water + Weather for January 2024 Posted on February 14, 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 January 2024. Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines.

January was cooler than normal for most of the state and wetter than normal for about half the state. At the end of January, 23 percent of the state was in drought, down 16 percentage points since the end of December and the lowest value since June 2023. Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is about 73 percent of capacity, up almost four percentage points since the end of December, but still almost 10 percentage points below normal for the time of year. Conditions are expected to continue to improve over the next few months, but we continue to have a long way to go to be drought-free statewide.

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 January. 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. January temperatures were well below normal for most of the state. In fact, January 2024 was the coldest January for Texas since 2007 and the second coldest since 1988. Precipitation in January was above average for about half the state. Overall, it was the wettest January for the state since 2007 and the 10th wettest since 1895. Even so, all of West Texas and parts of the Panhandle, Central Texas, and the lower Rio Grande Valley were drier than normal. Cooler and wetter conditions than average for large areas of the state led to improved drought conditions in the last month.

This is the Drought Monitor map for conditions as of January 30. On this map, 23 percent of the state is in drought, the tan, orange, and red colors, down 16 percentage points from the end of December. That's the lowest area of the state impacted by drought since June 2023 and the fourth consecutive month that drought has decreased.

January weather conditions also brought welcome relief to some of our water supply reservoirs. 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. During the month of January, statewide supplies increased by almost four percentage points, the largest increase in a single month since October 2018. Most of that increase came in the northeast quarter of the state, where most reservoirs are now back to normal for the time of year. Statewide, supplies are about 10 percentage points below normal for the time of year, but conditions are much worse in the south and west.

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 April. El Niño conditions, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific, are in place and expected to moderate temperatures and add moisture to Texas for the rest of the winter. Unfortunately, improvements aren't expected to be enough to reduce drought in West Texas or eliminate drought in Central and East Texas.

Looking a little farther out, May and June are typically two of the wettest months for Texas, regardless of El Niño status, giving us a chance for additional improvements before the full onset of 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 .