Drought Conditions Are Improving In North Texas, But There Are Still Trouble Zones | KERA News

Drought Conditions Are Improving In North Texas, But There Are Still Trouble Zones

Mar 14, 2015

Parts of North Texas received a half-foot of rain over the last three weeks – so it might seem a little odd to talk about drought. Still, the historic dry spell persists. 

For this week’s Friday Conversation, KERA’s Rick Holter caught up with a top drought expert at the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth – and Victor Murphy was pretty positive about the outlook.

Interview Highlights: Victor Murphy…

…On the impact of the last few weeks on the drought:

“…Ever since the devastatingly hot and dry summer of 2011, North Central Texas and the DFW area has been in the throes of a pretty significant drought, basically the worst since 1980 or so. But recently, the above-normal rainfall since January 1st has improved drought conditions.

The reservoirs that serve the Dallas area and the Fort Worth area have each bumped up about 15 percent over the past three months, so instead of being at about 60 to 62 percent full, now they’re about 70-73 percent full.”

…On the significance of reservoir levels rising:

“There’s a lot more customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the 1980s – the population of the Metroplex has doubled. The current population is about 6.5 million people and back then, it was about 2.8 to 3 million people.”

…On the changes in the new drought map:

“Two weeks ago, a lot of Dallas was under ‘exceptional drought,’ which is D4 on the map. That’s a drought that’s expected every 50 to 100 years. Most recently, most of Dallas County is under ‘severe drought,’ which is D2, so that’s a two-category improvement…drought in general has been improving from east to west.”

The image on the left shows drought conditions on February 25. The image on the right is the new drought map, released March 10.
Credit National Weather Service

…On the conditions in Wichita Falls:

“Wichita Falls is probably having their drought of record. Their reservoir levels are running at about 20 to 25 percent of capacity; you compare that to the 70 percent where we’re at…it is probably the most significant drought on record for that area since 1900.”

…On improving drought conditions going forward:

“…Getting the soil moisture up -- which we have right now-- should improve things around here, especially in May and June. [Those months] are the two wettest months around here, and those are two months where we’ll see the most improvement.”