Drought continues to exert a vise-like grip on much of Texas with the Panhandle taking the brunt of the long-term dry spell and showing a large expanse rated in extreme or exceptional drought status. The area at the Southeast corner of the Panhandle, extending into Southwest Oklahoma, continues to display exceptional drought status.
The rest of the Rolling Plains and into Central Texas shows mostly severe drought conditions. East and much of South Texas have shown improvements with conditions ranging from drought-free to abnormally dry to moderate drought. Some areas of Far West Texas and East Central Texas also show no drought and significant areas in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.
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A recent trip from Dallas to Austin showed crop conditions promising for wheat, and grain sorghum and corn up and growing well. Pasture and rangeland appeared to be recovering as well. Central Texas conditions are in stark contrast to those witnessed on a recent trip to the High Plains where tractors doing field prep were obscured by dust and steady winds stirred up thick clouds of dust. Farmers reported nothing more than a few traces of precipitation so far this year, following a dry fall. Some High Plains farmers say conditions going into spring planting season areas bad or worse than before the 2011 crop year because they have no subsoil moisture.
Warming conditions also reversed on Monday with temperatures in the high 80s over the weekend dropping to below freezing Monday morning across the Texas High Plains with reports of snow flurries in Lubbock, Abernathy and Amarillo but with little accumulation expected. Temperatures into the Dallas area were also expected to drop to near freezing by Tuesday morning.
Further south, Austin was expecting temperatures in the low 40s with possible thunderstorms. Rainfall is also expected for the Houston, Corpus Christi and Weslaco (Lower Rio Grande Valley) areas over the next few days. Freezing temperatures are not forecast for South Texas.
Last week’s Texas Drought Report also indicates the state’s reservoir levels remain the lowest since 1990. The report indicates 67 percent of the state in moderate to exceptional drought status. That’s unchanged from the previous week, but significantly worse than the 44 percent status three months ago. This time last year, 88 percent of the state was in drought status.
Reservoirs are currently 65 percent full, up one percent from last week and three months back and down from 66 percent a year ago.