AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – By the start of June 2023, many communities on the High Plains were underwater. Homes and businesses across the Texas Panhandle had flooded and brought on disaster declarations from entities such as Potter and Randall Counties and the cities of both Amarillo and Canyon.
The first Tuesday of the month saw not only Amarillo officials handing out sandbags to residents, but volunteer organizations gathering in Hereford to assist in responding to the sustained disaster conditions that left people stranded and cattle dead.
Yet, despite the destruction that has washed through the region with the weeks of ongoing rain and storm conditions filling the playa lakes alongside rivers and local reservoir lakes, the Texas Panhandle is also experiencing its best drought conditions in more than a year.
According to the latest report from the Texas Water Development Board, 13 of 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle had at least some groundcover experiencing “abnormally dry” conditions instead of a “moderate” or higher drought intensity level. No counties in the panhandle were experiencing “exceptional” drought, and only seven counties were experiencing areas with “extreme” drought conditions.
The TWDB noted that the week of May 30 was the ninth in a row that Texas saw a decrease in the area of the state impacted by drought, with exceptional drought levels now only impacting less than half of one percent of the state – the smallest extent since March 2022.
The Texas Panhandle, as previously reported on MyHighPlains.com, last experienced “abnormally dry” conditions in six counties in July and September of 2022, and at the time other counties in the area were experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions.
According to the TWDB’s latest report, the rainfall in May 2023 improved drought conditions in parts of the Texas Panhandle and the central parts of the state by three drought categories. As rain continues to shower the High Plains, the long-term effects of the sustained weather conditions on drought impacts in the area remain to be seen, but it does offer a look at continued improvements that the region might see with the arrival of El Niño conditions through the summer and fall.