COLLEGE STATION – Within two weeks, reservoir water levels could reach an all-time low throughout the state, according to Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas State Climatologist in, College Station.
Though drought conditions prevail, it hasn’t been “all that bad” for much of the state compared to previous drought years, Nielsen-Gammon said. The Panhandle had a fairly wet summer, as did parts of Far West Texas. There was also some useful rain in the West Central areas of the state, and much of the Coast Bend and the Coastal Plains did pretty well too.
However, some areas, most notably the northeastern quarter of the state, have been unusually dry, he said.
“But of course, even normal rainfall isn’t enough to fill reservoirs in the summertime,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “If they keep going down at the present rate, it will only take about two more weeks before they will set an all-time record for the difference between how much water they were designed to hold and how much they water they actually have in them. We continue to set records levels for this time of year, but this will be an all-time record low.”
The next two weeks could change the picture as climate models predict a tropical storm developing in the western part Gulf of Mexico about Sept. 13 -14, according to Nielsen-Gammon.
“We don’t know how strongly it will evolve or what course it will take, but that could drastically affect rainfall in South and South Central Texas,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t really develop, it could help pipe in a lot of tropical moisture and possibly seriously improve reservoir levels, especially along the Rio Grande.”
It’s rare to have tropical storms after September, but we can still get heavy rains throughout October, he said. Otherwise, the long-range forecasts don’t have much “special” happening this winter.
“We’re forecasting neutral conditions in the tropical Pacific – no El Niño or La Niña – and that means nothing is pointing us to either a very dry winter or wet winter,” he said. “So at this point, it could be a winter like we’ve been having for the past couple of years — not enough rain to end the drought, but things not getting worse either.”
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force website at http://AgriLife.tamu.edu/drought/.