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Water + Weather for October 2022 Posted on November 07, 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 October 2022.

Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines. October was wetter than normal for the western half of the state but drier than normal for the eastern half. At the end of October, drought conditions covered 75 percent of the state, up 14 percentage points from the end of September. Storage in our water supply reservoirs is at 68 percent of capacity, 13 percentage points below normal for this time of year. Looking forward, drought conditions are expected to continue to expand through the end of the year.

Let's take a closer look at drought in Texas. The drought monitor map for conditions as of October 25 shows 75 percent of the state in drought. Several areas of extreme or worse drought are scattered in or near the Panhandle. There's also a large area of extreme or worse drought extending from around Abilene in the west to Waco in the east. The largest area of exceptional drought is centered on the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to Austin, with extreme drought extending to the surrounding counties.

Let's take a closer look at how drought in Bexar County, home to the City of San Antonio, has changed in the last year. This chart shows the area of the county impacted by drought from late last year to this year. Abundant rainfall in October 2021 eliminated dryness from the area, but from November to January, rainfall was less than half the average, bringing moderate drought to the entire county by the end of January. February rainfall was near average, but the following months were drier. Total rainfall for the nine-month period from November 2021 to July 2022 was just over seven inches, a record low for that time period in data going back to 1895. By early August, the entire county was in exceptional drought. Average rainfall in August brought only modest relief.

Months of drought have impacted surface water resources. This chart shows the water surface elevation of Medina Lake near San Antonio. Since October 2021, the water level has fallen about 35 feet, and the reservoir is now only 7 percent full, its lowest contents since a multi-year drought came to an end in 2015.

Groundwater resources have also been impacted. This chart shows the elevation of the Edwards Aquifer as measured by the J-17 index well. In the past year, the water level in the aquifer has also dropped 35 feet and reached its lowest level since the 2011-2015 drought. Any chance for improvements in the next few months? Not likely. The National Weather Service is predicting drought expansion and persistence for Texas through the end of January next year.

It's too far out to say with certainty, but spring 2023 may be our next best chance for drought relief. That concludes our report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.


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