AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – According to the most recent “Water Weekly” report from the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Panhandle has continued to stand apart with a continued stable lack of drought. Meanwhile, most of the rest of Texas saw the spread and worsening of drought conditions for the seventh week in a row.
The report detailed that 52% of Texas was experiencing drought conditions as of Aug. 7, an increase from 49% the previous week. That marks a significant increase from the middle of July, even if drought conditions across Texas in 2023 remain drastically improved compared to the 97% drought coverage from August 2022.
The TWDB noted that the current drought levels across Texas marked the largest extent of drought conditions since early May, “and looks primed to continue growing in the coming weeks.”
While most of the Texas Panhandle and High Plains region has remained out of drought conditions entirely, TWDB’s most recent drought map showed Hardeman County was reported to be experiencing “moderate” drought as of Aug. 7.
Areas of West, North Central, and East Texas all also experienced one level of drought degradation, said the TWDB, and the most severe area of drought in the state remained in the Fredericksburg area.
Although drought conditions across the state of Texas have improved significantly compared to 2022, the TWDB noted that the summer of 2023 is still a record-breaking one in recent history.
The statewide average precipitation in Texas in June-July 2023 was recorded as 3.27 inches while the average temperature was 84.3 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the third-driest and warmest June-July in Texas since 2000. Only 2022 and 2011 have been recorded as hotter and drier than the current season in the last 20 years, said TWDB.
Amid this most recent historically hot and dry summer, multiple areas in the drought-stricken regions of Texas have experienced numerous wildfires and increased wildfire danger. The Texas A&M Forest Service raised the State Wildfire Preparedness Level to Level 4 in the past week, as more than 11 active wildfires were recorded in the state by Monday.
Looking ahead to the rest of the month on the High Plains, the region is expected to have average or above-average chances for precipitation. Temperatures are expected to trend above-average, as the Lone Star State continues to wait for the full impact of El Niño in the coming months and to see if it is headed into the Farmers’ Almanac’s predicted cold and stormy winter.