Portions of East and Northeast Texas received relief from drought conditions last week as dry weather shifted to the northwest, the Texas Water Development Board said in its weekly water report. This week’s update found that 34 percent of the state, a 1 percent increase over the previous week, is currently in a state of drought.


“Drought continues to intensify in the Panhandle,” TWDB Hydrologist Mark Wentzel said in the report. “The number of counties in that part of the state experiencing at least some area of drought jumped from 15 percent to 28 (percent) last week. About one third of the state remains impacted by moderate or worse drought.”


While portions of the panhandle are experiencing “severe drought” with a small concentration of “extreme drought,” late December rain and a wet start to 2018 eliminated these conditions in Texoma and all of Northeast and East Texas. In the latest report, the closest patches of drought can be found in all of Denton and Cooke counties and the northeastern corner of Fannin County, which are both classified as being in “moderate drought.”


While not classified as being in a drought in the latest report, both Grayson and Collin counties are considered “abnormally dry,” an improvement over the “severe drought” that hit both counties late last year. The abnormally dry conditions usually serve as precursors for future drought conditions if additional rainfall does not occur.


Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor that was included in the report found that the region had improved by about two categories last month.


“In the last month, the epicenter of drought moved from East Texas to the panhandle,” Wentzel said. “Many areas in East Texas improved two drought categories in that time while many areas in the panhandle degraded by two drought categories.”


While the region is considered dry for this time of year, Lake Texoma water levels remain above average for this point of the year. As of Tuesday afternoon, the pool elevation stood at 617.11 feet, placing the levels into the lake’s flood pool. For this time of year, the flood control pool is 1.41 percent full.


Despite the dry conditions, Bianca Villanueva, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office said the region has already gotten off to a wet start to the year. Following storms on Sunday, a co-op weather station in Sherman recorded 1.05 inches of rainfall. This is already above the 0.63 inches of rain that are normal for this time of year, she said.


Looking ahead to coming days, Villanueva said the next chance for rainfall will likely be on Monday, when chances rise to 20 percent. Through the remainder of the week, however, conditions are expected to remain dry with temperatures dropping into the low 40s for the majority of the week.