AUSTIN (KXAN) – Around this time last year none of Central Texas was in drought. Fast forward a year and the entire area is in drought with most of us in extreme or exceptional drought, the worst two tiers.
If you remember last spring into summer was wetter and cooler than normal. Our lakes were rising without significant and widespread flash flooding.
By late July into early August of 2021 we were completely drought free without even any “Abnormal Dryness” setting in.
Abnormal dryness started to creep back into Central Texas in late September 2021 before disappearing thanks to some welcome rain in October.
By early December 2021 the dryness returned as we began what would be the warmest December on record in Austin.
Areas of drought started to show up just before Christmas, first in the Hill Country before gradually expanding eastward into the Austin Metro by late January 2022. Our 2022 drought was officially underway and worsening quickly in the Hill Country.
Rain and wintry weather in February 2022 trimmed the drought and dryness away from areas along and east of I-35 while the Hill Country only saw minor improvements.
March 2022 brought rapid worsening of the drought in the Hill Country with slower deterioration along and east of I-35 thanks to several rounds of severe weather that also included a tornado outbreak.
By late March through mid-April parts of the Hill Country (mainly Lampasas County) were in Exceptional Drought while Extreme Drought would continue to spread. Still, areas east of I-35 were significantly better off.
By early May all of Central Texas was in drought or, at the very least, abnormally dry.
By late May Exceptional Drought expanded quickly throughout the Hill Country as Central Texas experienced its hottest May on record.
Through early June, Extreme Drought expanded eastward and by June 21st, 2022 ALL of Central Texas was experiencing some level of drought as Central Texas experienced it’s hottest June on record.
As June became July Severe Drought turned to Extreme drought in parts of Austin as Exceptional Drought continued expanding in the Hill Country. Spotty downpours and a few thunderstorms gave some localized drought reductions with the Hill Country continuing to experience the worst drought conditions as things stand today.
Texas drought stats (as of July 19th)
- 94.77% of Texas is in at least Moderate Drought
- 84.08% of Texas is in at least Severe Drought
- 56.67% of Texas is in at at least Extreme Drought
- 20.4% of Texas is in Exceptional Drought
How much rain do we need to end the drought?
Ending the drought would require catching up on the missing rainfall that would have brought us to normal precipitation levels.
Because we were drought-free in Central Texas this time last year, it’s safe say that catching up on the rain we missed over the last year would free us of drought.
This map (below) from the Southern Regional Climate Center suggests most of Central Texas needs 10-20 inches of rain to return to normal rainfall since last July.
A similar view is presented by NOAA. They suggest Central Texas needs more than 15 inches of rain within the next four weeks to end the drought here. (See below)
When will it rain again?
In the near term we’re not forecasting much of anything for widespread soaking rainfall, but August-September and October statistically make up our second rainy season here in Central Texas, which should , in theory, bring us some relief.