Late-February storms brought an end to winter drought throughout the east and northeast portions of the state, the Texas Water Development Board said in its weekly water report. With recent rains offering relief from dry conditions, the board said 54 percent of the state, down from 71 percent two weeks ago, remains in a state of drought.
“Last week’s drought map had good news and bad news,” TWDB Hydrologist Mark Wentzel said in the report. “The good news was that the area of the state impacted by drought decreased by one percentage point. The bad news was that extreme drought expanded by three percentage points and now covers about 14 percent of the state.”
This week’s report saw a band of moderate drought and “unusually dry” conditions retreat west out of Grayson County and into the western portions of Cooke County. Meanwhile, Fannin, Cooke and Grayson are now fully drought free.
Statewide, a cell of “extreme drought” is centered in the Texas Panhandle and encompasses the vast majority of the region, extending into Central Texas.
This week’s report follows a dry spell in North Texas that extended from early 2018 through February. A series of late February storms dumped nearly nine inches of rain — nearly three times the month’s average precipitation — effectively bringing an end to the drought.
This abundant rainfall added more than 1.2 million acre-feet, or 4 percent of capacity, to water supply reservoirs in the region. This has brought state water storage to about 85 percent of capacity, Wentzel said. As of Tuesday, the water levels of Lake Texoma stood at 618.1 feet. This put the levels into the lake’s flood control pool, which was 8.7 percent full.
Despite this wet end to February, officials with the National Weather Service say the region has been off to a dry start for March. NWS Meteorologist Bianca Villanueva said a co-op weather station in Sherman has received no noticeable rain for the month.
However, she said rain is expected to roll into the forecast Friday, with a 30 percent chance for showers. Chances for rain are expected to increase to about 30 percent Saturday before drying out again, she said.