Two dark spots, zits on the landscape of the Texas Plains, remind farmers and ranchers that the drought lingers in some parts of the state while conditions across most of Texas has improved significantly in the first few weeks of 2015.
Oklahoma has also seen some improvement, but more than 70 percent of the state remains in moderate to exceptional drought conditions. In New Mexico, only 29.10 percent of the area remains in moderate to extreme drought status and only a small sliver, representing 3.7 percent of the state, is considered in extreme drought.
Oklahoma’s southwest corner remains the driest section in the region and is well into a fourth year of mostly exceptional drought status.
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In Texas, the latest drought monitor map shows only 42 percent of the state rated in moderate to exceptional drought. “The New Year has brought us the biggest weekly bump in statewide reservoir storage over the past eight months,” the report reads. “Most of the bump comes in East Texas. We also saw the amount of Texas in drought decline to 41.8 percent, a drop of 2.9 percentage points.” That’s down from 45 percent a week ago, 49 percent three months ago and 44 percent this time last year.
Some good news for Oklahoma—almost 30 percent of the state is now rated drought-free. That designation covers Central and East Oklahoma. From West Central to Southwest Oklahoma and into the Panhandle, the state remains dry, mostly in severe to extreme categories with the southwest area and one small area in the southwest corner of the Panhandle considered in exceptional drought.
About 12 percent of New Mexico is drought-free, primarily toward the Southeast. The bulk of the state is rated at moderate to severe drought.
Of some concern, according to the Texas Water Development Board, is the declining chance for an El Niño event to develop. Odds of El Niño have dropped from 65 percent to 50 to 60 percent.