U.S. Drought Portal

www.drought.gov

Southern Plains

Text dated monthly. Current version is April 17, 2014. Images and statistics update more frequently.

Current Drought

  • Nearly 2 million Southern Plains residents are currently suffering through extreme or exceptional drought
  • The number of affected residents in the region has more than doubled since the beginning of winter. 
  • Most of the affected population is in Texas, in cities such as Lubbock, Amarillo, and Wichita Falls.
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Current/Ongoing Drought Impacts

Beef prices at highest point since 1987.
New Mexico: 3 of the 4 largest reservoirs in NM at 18% or less of storage capacity. The largest, Elephant Butte, is at only 18% of capacity.
Texas: Texas reservoir levels nearly 500,000 acre-feet lower than at this time in 2013. Wichita Falls, TX enacting Stage 5 water restrictions and exploring re-use of wastewater for drinking.
Oklahoma: Lake Altus in southwest Oklahoma at less than 12% of capacity.
 
 
 

Southern Plains Drought Outlook

  • Nearly 2 million Southern Plains residents are currently suffering through extreme or exceptional drought.
    • The number of affected residents in the region has more than doubled since the beginning of winter. Most of the affected population is in Texas, in cities such as Lubbock, Amarillo, and Wichita Falls.
    • The geographic extent of extreme and exceptional drought has increased nearly four-fold in Texas, over five-fold in Oklahoma, and nearly six-fold in New Mexico since the beginning of winter.
  • Since October 2010, when the Southern Plains drought began, it has been the driest comparable 42-month period in nearly a century in many parts of west Texas and southwest Oklahoma.
  • Potential relief does lie ahead
    • May and June are the wettest months of the year climatologically in Oklahoma and Texas.
    • NOAA continues to track the potential development of an El Nino event by the fall in the Pacific Ocean.
      • Texas and New Mexico have a strong signal for above normal precipitation in the fall and winter during El Nino events.
 
 

Drought Summary

  • The geographic extent of extreme and exceptional drought has increased nearly four-fold in Texas, over five-fold in Oklahoma, and nearly six-fold in New Mexico since the beginning of winter. 
  • Since October 2010, when the Southern Plains drought began, it has been the driest comparable 42-month period in nearly a century in many parts of west Texas and southwest Oklahoma. 
  • Potential relief does lie ahead; May and June are the wettest months of the year climatologically in Oklahoma and Texas. Also, El Nino conditions may develop in the coming months and help bolster above normal precipitation chances for Texas and New Mexico for the fall and winter. 
 

3-Month Outlook - Precipitation

  • Equal chances of below, above, or near normal precipitation expected across TX and OK.
    • May and June typically wet months in TX and OK ; some relief possible even if near normal rainfall
  • Above normal precipitation outlook through July for NM.
    • Generally, spring is relatively dry in NM; any relief therefore is welcome / unexpected
 

3-Month Outlook - Temperature

  • Increased chances for above normal temperatures for all of TX/NM/OK. 
  • Increased Evaporation of any rain that does fall is likely with higher temperatures … further exacerbating surface reservoir water deficits. 

Additional Information

 


The Southern Plains Drought Outlook narrative is provided by the NWS Southern Region Headquarters (SRH) Regional Operations Center (ROC).  The SRH ROC is one of the NOAA Weather Ready Nation Pilot Projects and a primary objective of the SRH ROC Pilot is to provide weather, water, and climate Decision Support Services to regional scale partners.

 

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