AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to the most recent report from the Texas Water Development Board, large areas of South and Central Texas saw significant relief from their drought conditions in the last weeks. However, meanwhile, the Texas Panhandle’s drought has continued to worsen.
The most recent drought maps from April 11, as published by the TWDB, showed that around 59% of Texas’ surface area was under drought conditions. While that percentage was a drastic drop from the previous week’s reports, decreasing by over 8% in a matter of days, it was mostly localized in South and Central Texas. In the Texas Panhandle, eastern and northern counties especially saw the continued creeping expansion of “extreme” and “exceptional” drought conditions.
As detailed by the TWDB report, the drought coverage drop from 67% to 59% stands as the largest one-week decrease in the impacted area of Texas since November 2022. However, Dallam, Sherman, Hansford, Ochiltree, and Lipscomb Counties all shifted into “exceptional” drought conditions.
Both experts from the TWDB and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration consider it possible that the Texas Panhandle will soon see some much-needed drought relief, despite the current encroaching severity, with the end of La Niña conditions and the chance of an early shift into El Niño.
As noted in previous reports, the “ENSO-neutral” conditions – during which neither La Niña nor El Niño is active – were expected to end at some point in summer or early fall. However, TWDB’s Dr. Mark Wentzel said in the most recent “Water Weekly” that there is a 75% chance that El Niño will take over between June and August.
“That’s good news for the Panhandle,” said Wentzel, “where El Niño is associated with above-average precipitation during those months.”