Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Site Section
News & Events

South Central U.S. Drought Update and Winter Outlook: November 14, 2022

Event Date
November 14, 2022
Event Time
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

From shipping to agriculture and fire, the current drought has caused major impacts across the South Central United States so far. The forecast of a third La Niña winter does not bode well for lingering drought across the southern U.S. 

This webinar provided an overview of current conditions and impacts from drought and a look ahead to what winter will bring for Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The webinar was co-produced by NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System and the Southern Regional Climate Center. 

For more information, please contact


Welcome and Introductions

Speaker: Joel Lisonbee, NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) / University of Colorado Boulder



Drought Status and Outlook

Speaker: John Nielsen-Gammon, Southern Regional Climate Center, Texas A&M University

  • Drought continues across the South Central U.S. 
  • Recent rains were beneficial, but not a drought buster.
  • Another La Niña winter means another drier-than-normal winter ahead.
    • La Niña is forecast to end in spring, replaced by neutral conditions.



South Central U.S. Drought Status: Low Water on Mississippi River

Speaker: Jeff Graschel, Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, National Weather Service

  • Modern day low-flow records occurred on the lower Mississippi River in mid-October.
  • Rainfall over the past 3 weeks has kept river stages above mid-October levels.
  • Runoff from the remnants of Hurricane Nicole will provide beneficial rises on the lower Mississippi River over the next couple of weeks.
  • More rainfall is needed over the next several months to alleviate lower water conditions on the lower Mississippi River.



Texas Water Supply Update

Speaker: Nelun Fernando, Texas Water Development Board

  • As at November 14, 2022, combined storage in 119 monitored major water supply reservoirs in Texas, and at Elephant Butte Reservoir in New Mexico, was at 68.2% of total capacity. This is about 12% below the median storage expected for this time of year.
  • Over the last year (October 2021 through October 2022), several reservoirs in north central and north Texas saw a 40% decrease in storage, while several reservoirs in south central and central Texas saw 15%‒40% decreases in storage.
  • Groundwater conditions recorded at 18 monitoring wells in Texas showed that water levels declined in 13 of the 18 monitoring wells in September, compared to conditions in September 2021. 
  • Some of the largest decreases in Texas groundwater levels were seen in central and south central portions of the state where the 52-week U.S. Drought Monitor change map ending September 27, 2022 indicates 3‒5 class degradations over the same period.
  • At a key indicator well in the Edwards Aquifer (an unconfined aquifer where water level responds to rainfall), water levels reached the Stage III drought level in June 2022, necessitating a 35% reduction in withdrawals. As of November 14, Stage III water restrictions continue to be in place because the aquifer is still below the Stage III critical management level of 640 feet.



2022/23 Wildfire Outlook: Drought, La Niña, Fuels, Oh My...

Speaker: Drew Daily, Oklahoma Forestry Services

  • The rate of fire occurrence on the Southern Plains is expected to be more frequent during drought conditions due to the underlying, long-term drying of fuels typical of a drought.
  • Fire severity is generally most significant during an emerging drought, where fuels have had opportunity to build up ahead of building dryness.  
  • Long-term drought during the growing season tends to limit fuel loading, offering some reduction in resulting fire behavior and resistance to control efforts.
  • Drought sets an underlying tone in fire occurrence and behavior outputs. During drought conditions (especially D3/D4), the drying time required to support problematic fire behavior is shortened and less-critical fire weather is required to support problematic/extreme fire behavior.



South Central U.S. Drought Update and Winter Outlook: Impacts to Agriculture, Ongoing and Future Issues 

Speaker: Mary Love Tagert, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University

  • Dryland acres for all crops suffered more damage than those with access to irrigation.
  • Producers who only had access to surface water for irrigation were out of water or almost out of water by the end of the 2022 growing season.
  • Producers in the southeastern U.S. need to continue to take advantage of rainfall outside of the growing season through on-farm water storage systems, which capture and store surface water for irrigation.
  • The longer dry conditions persist, the more farmers may consider adopting irrigation to reduce risk.



Oklahoma Agriculture 

Speaker: Wes Lee, Oklahoma Mesonet

  • Oklahoma is experiencing a multi-year drought with a short respite with heavy rainfall in late May and early June. 
  • 2022 crop yields have been negatively impacted, with wheat, forage, and cotton seeing the largest decreases.
  • The 2022–23 wheat crop is in the ground, but conditions were not conducive for fall forage production.



Southern Regional Climate Center Monitoring Tools

Speaker: David SathiarajSouthern Regional Climate Center and Trabus Technologies

  • The Southern Regional Climate Center (SRCC) has developed a drought tool (for the 48 states in the contiguous U.S.) that monitors drought conditions at a state and climate division level. The tool provides drought statistics, precipitation totals, departures from long-term averages and rankings. The tool is updated daily.
  • SRCC has developed a drought-focused tool for U.S. inland waterways. The tool provides map-based drought conditions and monitors river conditions and marine vessel transits at key locations along the Mississippi River. The tool is updated daily.  
  • SRCC is conducting some experimental research using AI-based methodologies to help water reservoirs plan their water resources during prolonged drought conditions or around excessive precipitation events. Preliminary results were shared for 3 reservoirs in Texas using a hindcast AI model. 




Speaker: Joel Lisonbee, NOAA/NIDIS, CIRES