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Water + Weather for October 2023 Posted on November 07, 2023


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 2023.

Let's take a look at some of the big water and weather headlines. Temperatures in October were near normal, and about half the state had above or well above-normal precipitation, exactly what we'd expect for a fall or winter month in Texas during El Niño conditions. At the end of October, 65 percent of the state was in drought, down 16 percentage points since the end of September. Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is about 68 percent of capacity, up about two percentage points since the end of September, but still almost 13 percentage points below normal for the time of year. Conditions are prime for improved drought conditions this fall and winter.

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 October. 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. October temperatures were within a few degrees of normal for most of the state, and about half the state had above- to well-above-normal precipitation. Overall, conditions were an improvement from September and a huge improvement from this past summer. Improved temperature and precipitation conditions led to improved drought conditions by the end of October. 

This is the Drought Monitor map for conditions as of October 31. On this map, 65 percent of the state is in drought, the tan, orange, and red colors, down 16 percentage points from the end of September. That's the first monthly decrease in the area impacted by drought since May. 

Improved weather conditions also brought welcome relief to our surface water 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 2022 and 2021 and a red line that shows how we did in 2011. At the end of October, supplies are at 68 percent of capacity, about 13 percentage points lower than normal for this time of year. But that's a two percentage point increase since the end of September and the first monthly increase in reservoir volumes since May.

What can we expect in the next few months? Here's the latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service for conditions through the end of January 2024. El Niño conditions, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific, are in place and expected to persist into next year. El Niño typically brings Texas wetter and cooler-than-normal conditions during fall and winter. Those conditions are at least partially responsible for the improvements we saw in October. As shown on this map, the next few months aren't expected to provide enough relief to eliminate drought from our state. But El Niño conditions are expected to linger into spring 2024, and that should give us a few more months of recovery before we face another Texas summer.

That concludes the report. Until next time, I hope you all stay healthy and safe.

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