AUSTIN, Texas -- According to this week's update of the Drought Monitor, 65 percent of Texas is now experiencing drought conditions. That up 9 percent since last week.
Severe drought (orange on the Drought Monitor) has now encompassed areas north and west of Austin, including much of the Colorado River basin and areas as far south as Fredericksburg along the 290 corridor. South and east of the Capitol City, abnormally dry (noted in yellow) conditions continue from Austin to Bastrop to Lockhart to San Marcos. The area between Round Rock to Lake Travis to Dripping Springs is officially considered in moderate drought (beige color.)
NOAA said the drought footprint across America is the most expansive observed since late 2014.
As you may recall, Texas' drought of record was in full swing during that time frame but it all came to a crashing halt in 2015 with the Memorial Day floods.
Looking back, the strongest El Niño on record was in progress at that time and likely the main reason for excessive rain that year. And El Niño, often the Texas drought buster, might be coming back as soon as the end of 2018.
Here in Texas, the impact is currently worse in the Panhandle, where some locations have not seen measurable rainfall since Oct. 13. That said, monitored water supply reservoirs across the Lone Star State are currently 82 percent full.
For now, cooler-than-normal waters along the equatorial Pacific continue to show La Niña conditions at play. It's been weakening since October.
This week's forecast from NOAA shows a 55 percent chance of neutral El Niño conditions developing around March to May. We often refer to this absence of La Niña or El Niño as La Nada, which means "the nothing" in Spanish.
As of now, NOAA's long range forecast calls for drier-than-normal conditions to continue through at least June.