Soaking rains over the last week resulted in some improvement in drought conditions across Texas. The key word there is some. We’re going to need much more rain before we can completely eradicate drought conditions.

Soaking Rains bring SOME Drought Improvement to Texas

Extreme drought conditions are more localized but they do remain in several spots. Widespread drought does remain across the southern half of the Texas Panhandle, West Texas, Northwest Texas, the Concho Valley, North Texas, Northeast Texas, Central Texas, the Hill Country, the Brazos Valley, and finally the Edwards Plateau.

Soaking Rains bring SOME Drought Improvement to Texas

We’ve seen the drought classifications improve by one to two categories across the Concho Valley into North Texas. We note that those regions do remain in drought. However, any improvement is better than none at all. There has been minimal expansion or degradation of drought conditions compared to last week’s update.

The Climate Prediction Center has an above-average chance of rainfall across the Texas Panhandle and in the Borderland next week. Otherwise, the CPC are anticipating an average to a below-average chance of rain across the rest of Texas. A similar outlook is anticipated for the final week of August. We may have a better chance of monsoonal moisture in the Borderland beginning late next week.

Richard Heim with NOAA/NCEI provided an excellent write-up with this week’s drought monitor update. Here is his full write-up…

Most of the South was wetter and cooler than normal this week. Heavy rain fell from central Texas to southeast Oklahoma and much of Arkansas. Reports of 4 inches or more of rainfall were common. The rains missed other portions of the region, especially coastal Texas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, the worst drought areas of southwest Oklahoma, and parts of Louisiana. D0-D3 contracted across much of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. But D0-D4 expanded in parts of Texas and Mississippi which missed the beneficial rains. The resulting pattern of D0-D4 in Texas reflected dryness at several time scales. Based on a crucial drought indicator, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), it was dry at the 30-day time scale in the Trans-Pecos, northern panhandle, and Gulf coast; dry at 60 days in the Trans-Pecos and northern tier counties; dry at 90 days from the southern Rio Grande, across central Texas to the north-central and northeast areas; the 120-day timescale is similar to 90 days except there was more severe dryness and includes the Trans-Pecos; 6 months has dryness mostly in west to central Texas, with a spot over the Gulf coast; 9 months is the 6 month pattern except lots drier; 12 months is like 6 and 9 months; 24 months has some spotty dryness mostly central to north central and northeast. When soils are parched from dryness of these timescales, a one-week rainfall of 4 inches is helpful, but not a drought-buster. As summarized by the NDMC, water restrictions or water shortages were reported in Waco and other Texas communities, specifically media reports that recent rain did not improve water supplies in Waco where 50 million gallons on average were used daily this summer. Voluntary water restrictions were taking effect in other central Texas cities like Robinson. By early August, drought impacts in many parts of Texas included pastures and rangeland in poor to very poor condition or declining condition, forage production has stopped, stock ponds receding or low water supplies for livestock, and, in central Texas, total loss of all dryland crops. The rains this week were helpful, but not for the crops that were already lost. According to August 12 USDA reports, 36% of the corn crop and 57% of the pasture and rangeland in Texas were in poor to very poor condition, and 71% of the topsoil and 76% of the subsoil was short or very short of moisture; 29% of the pasture and rangeland in Louisiana was in poor to very poor condition, and 43% of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture; 45% of the pasture and rangeland in Arkansas was in poor to very poor condition, and 50% of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture.