Historic Texas Drought Improving; Still a Long Way to Go

December 09, 2011; 11:19 AM
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The incredible drought that has been gripping Texas for more than a year and led to disastrous wildfires, crop losses and extreme water shortages is fortunately showing signs of improvement.

Rounds of locally heavy rain over the past few weeks have been the catalyst.

While the entire state continues to experience abnormally dry or drought conditions, the severity of the drought is decreasing.

The latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor, valid Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, shows a reduction in extreme drought conditions from about 83 percent of the state last week to 77 percent this week.

Exceptional drought conditions, the worst level on the U.S. Drought Monitor's scale, have also decreased from about 53 percent of the state last week to 43 percent this week.

A comparison of drought conditions across Texas on Sept. 13, 2011 (left) and Dec. 6, 2011 (right) from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The percentage of the state in different levels of drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor scale are given on the bottom of the image. Yellow = ABNORMALLY DRY, Tan = MODERATE, Orange = SEVERE, Red = EXTREME, Dark Red = EXCEPTIONAL (worst on the scale).

Less than three months ago, the percentage of Texas, the largest state in the contiguous U.S., in an exceptional drought was up to a staggering 88 percent. Recent rains have helped to cut that percentage in half.

While the improvement is significant, it is going to take quite a bit more rain on a semi-regular basis to continue the progress. The state is still a long way from eradicating the drought completely.

Unfortunately, the AccuWeather.com 2011-2012 Winter Forecast does not bode well for a large portion of Texas. Drier-than-normal conditions are predicted to persist in western and southern parts of the state.

Northern and eastern Texas are expected to fare a bit better with precipitation being closer to normal.


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