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Texas Drought: Could It Get Any Worse?

Image courtesy US Drought Monitor
This map shows more of Texas in drought than any other time since it was introduced by the US Drought Monitor in January 2000.

The U.S. Drought Monitor started using the above map in 2000 to visually represent drought conditions. The newest map, released May 5, shows more land than ever before is in "exceptional drought," the most intense drought category used by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Associated Press talked to National Weather Service Meteorologist Victor Murphy who said the same is true of the amount of land in "extreme drought", the second most severe category.

"It's going to be really, really critical what happens across Texas in the month of May," Murphy said of the month the state typically gets its greatest rainfall totals.

Almost 26 percent of the land in Texas is under exceptional drought, up from 17 percent last week. The amount of land under extreme drought grew from 70 percent last week to almost 74 percent this week.

Exceptional drought is described as "widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells creating water emergencies."

A close inspection of the map finds that Travis County is under extreme drought. Just southeast of Austin, in Bastrop County, the drought is exceptional.

The Lower Colorado River Authority reports that lake levels continue to decline in Central Texas. Lake Travis, for example, is now almost 16 feet below its average levels for May.

All this as The National Centers for Environmental Prediction this week announced that the weather pattern, La Nina, is ending. La Niña happens when the water in the central Pacific Ocean is cooler than normal. But that doesn't mean that Texas is in for more rain any time soon. ABC News reports,

However, the center said the condition could continue to have impacts even as it diminishes, including below-average rainfall across southeastern Texas and Louisiana and cooler than average temperatures for the Pacific Northwest.

Our chart below uses US Drought Monitor data to show the percentage of Texas in drought over the past decade.



Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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