Drought in Texas
Texas is no stranger to drought. The seven-year drought of record in the 1950s was a turning point in Texas history that led to the formation of the Texas Water Development Board. Since then, Texas has faced several droughts including the most recent and most severe drought that began in 2011. This website brings together relevant resources, links, data and analyses to provide updated information on drought in Texas.
Texas is a big place and we don't always get to see what is happening in different regions of our great state. Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) and the TWDB invite the public to help us capture what the drought looks like for folks across the state by sharing drought-related photographs on Flickr.
What is Drought?
Drought is generally understood to be a lack of water, but pinning down a precise definition is more complex. The impact of a drought can vary from region to region and conditions that indicate drought in one area may be normal in another. Drought can also impact a single region in different ways. A region may be doing fine from a municipal water supply perspective, but may be experiencing drought conditions from an agricultural perspective. With respect to time, a region may be doing well when considering the short term of weeks or months but may be in a multi-year pattern of low rainfall. For most purposes, identifying the severity and duration of a drought involves knowledge of local needs as well as the supply and demands of available water.
Because there are many ways to define drought, researchers have developed multiple ways of measuring drought. These measurements are often represented as a drought index that provides a number that indicates how severe the drought is for a particular time period and geographic area. For example, the Crop Moisture Index or CMI reflects short-term moisture supply across major crop-producing regions and identifies potential agricultural droughts but is not intended to assess long-term droughts. Sometimes drought information is combined into a blended index to capture a more holistic picture of drought conditions. The U.S. Drought Monitor is an example of a widely used blended index.
TWDB and Drought
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) serves on the Texas Drought Preparedness Council and the Emergency Drinking Water Task Force. The Task Force is responsible for helping water suppliers find solutions to water supply shortages. The Council is charged with supporting drought management efforts in the state and with conducting drought monitoring, assessment, preparedness, mitigation, and assistance. To serve this purpose, the Council prepares monthly drought situation reports on the status of drought conditions in the state and delivers these reports to state leadership. The latest monthly report can be viewed at the Council's home page.
TWDB staff prepare monthly Texas Water Conditions reports. These reports document storage in the state's reservoirs as well as groundwater levels in the state's aquifers. In addition, TWDB issues a weekly Legislative Drought Update and maintains information on reservoir storage and groundwater well levels across the state.
The TWDB is also a cooperator with the U.S. Geological Survey in monitoring real-time stream flows across the state.
The TWDB, in coordination with regional water planning groups across the state, develops a state water plan that plans for a repeat of the drought of record. The latest state water plan and planning efforts are available on the Water Resources Planning Information section of the TWDB website.
In addition to this website the TWDB publishes a PDF summary of TWDB's Drought Resources.
- TWDB Monthly Texas Water Conditions reports
- TWDB Weekly Legislative Drought Update (Archived Reports)
- TWDB Daily Groundwater Levels
- TWDB Daily Reservoir Storage Information
- TWDB Drought Resources (pdf)
- Texas Drought Preparedness Council
- Water Conservation Advisory Council
- Office of the State Climatologist
- County Burn Bans
- National Weather Service
- Groundwater Watch - U.S. Geological Survey
- Streamflow Conditions - U.S. Geological Survey
- Texas Drought Information - Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- Drought and Public Water Systems - Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- Map of Water Systems under Water Use Restrictions
- Vegetation Drought Response Index
- Amount of Rainfall Needed to Come Out of Drought
- U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook
- Predictions on La Nina (tends to be dry for Texas) and El Nino (tends to be wet for Texas, inhibits hurricanes) cycles:
- National Drought Mitigation Center (NMDC)
- Defining Drought - NMDC
- Predicting Drought - NMDC
- Drought Index Comparison - NMDC
- Emergency Water Supply Planning Tool (Accessibility note: This tool may not be fully accessible for users of certain assistive technologies; however, if you need help please contact the webmaster and we will provide a text-based copy or otherwise make every effort to assist you.)
What You Can Do To Help
- How to Prepare for Droughts
- Earth-Kind® Drought Preparedness
- TWDB Kids
- TWDB Water IQ Program
- Avoid wasting water at home, in the lawn and garden and on the farm or ranch
For more information about the drought and drought assistance, please contact TWDB staff.