AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to the latest update from the Texas Water Development Board, a dry first half of January has led to drought levels intensifying and expanding in the state. Dry conditions in the Texas Panhandle have remained steady, and high winds have contributed to increased fire danger.

The TWDB report noted that while drought conditions have remained steady in the panhandle, with much of the region experiencing “severe” to “extreme” levels, they have markedly worsened in Central and South Texas.

Although the surface area of Texas experiencing drought conditions is significantly less than three months or a year ago, 52% compared to 73% or 82%, that percentage was still a slight increase from the previous week.

Further, officials with the TWDB offered a note about the precipitation ranking of 2022, which was recorded as the 13th driest year in Texas since 1895.

“Statewide, 2022 was the 13 driest year for Texas since 1895. Erath and Bexar counties received record low annual rainfall amounts, breaking previous records set in 1901 (Erath County) and 1954 (Bexar County),” said Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist in the TWDB Office of Water Science and Conservation, “These areas continue to experience some of the most severe drought conditions in the state.”

In the Texas Panhandle, windy conditions are expected to continue despite the hope for more moisture over the upcoming weekend. Outdoor burn bans have remained active in most of the region’s counties, including the most populated counties such as Potter, Randall, and Moore.

For the latest updates on local news, events, and weather, check with MyHighPlains.com.