Temperature and Precipitation departure from normal for Jan 2024 in Texas

January 2024 Weather Much Cooler, Wetter than Normal in Houston Area

According to Dr. Mark Wentzel, a hydrologist in the Surface Water Division at the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), January 2024 weather was much cooler and wetter than normal in the Houston area, but the same was not true across the state.

Wentzel issues monthly reports that summarize weather, rainfall (or lack thereof), and water supplies across Texas. His latest report, issued today, covers conditions from the end of December 2023 to the end of January 2024.

Key Stats

According to Wentzel, January was cooler than normal for most of Texas and wetter than normal for about half the state.

At the end of January, 23 percent of the state was in drought, down 16 percentage points since the end of December and the lowest percentage since June 2023.

Statewide, storage in our water supply reservoirs is about 73 percent of capacity, up almost four percentage points since the end of December, but still almost 10 percentage points below normal for the time of year.

Wentzel expects conditions to continue improving over the next few months. But he also says, we have a long way to go to be drought-free statewide.

Summary of key points for Jan. ’24, from TWDB video by Dr. Mark Wentzel

Houston Area Was 2 to 4 Degrees F Cooler, 150-300% Wetter Than Normal

Wentzel provided these two maps from NOAA. They show temperature and precipitation variations statewide relative to what is considered normal for January.

Source: TWDB

From a water supply perspective, reds, oranges, and yellows mean trouble on both maps. The Houston area was 2 to 4 degrees F cooler than normal and 150% to 300% wetter. However, parts of West Texas were above normal for temperature and below normal for precipitation – the opposite of SE Texas.

Overall, January temperatures were well below normal for most of the state. In fact…

January 2024 was the coldest January for Texas since 2007 and the second coldest since 1988.

Dr. Mark Wentzel, Hydrologist TWDB

Precipitation in January was above average for about half the state.

Overall, we had the wettest January since 2007 and the 10th wettest since 1895.

Dr. Mark Wentzel, Hydrologist TWDB

Even so, all of West Texas and parts of the Panhandle, Central Texas, and the lower Rio Grande Valley were drier than normal.

Drought Becomes Less Severe

Cooler and wetter conditions than average for large areas of the state led to improved drought conditions in the last month.

From US Drought Monitor

This Drought Monitor map shows conditions as of January 30. Twenty-three percent of the state is in drought with the tan, orange, and red colors, down 16 percentage points from the end of December.

That’s the smallest percentage of the state impacted by drought since June 2023 and the fourth consecutive month that drought has decreased.

Water Supply Up, But Still Below Normal

January also brought welcome relief to some of Texas’ water supply reservoirs. During the month of January, statewide supplies increased by almost four percentage points, the largest increase in a single month since October 2018.

Most of that increase came in the northeast quarter of the state, where most reservoirs are now back to normal for this time of year.

However, statewide, supplies are about 10 percentage points below normal for the time of year. And conditions are much worse in the south and west.

Drought Forecast Through End of April

What can we expect over the next few months? Here’s the latest seasonal drought outlook from the National Weather Service for conditions through the end of April.

NOAA’s drought predictions for entire country

El Niño conditions, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Equatorial Pacific, are in place and expected to moderate temperatures. They will also add moisture to Texas for the rest of the winter.

Unfortunately, improvements aren’t expected to be enough to reduce drought in West Texas or eliminate drought in Central and East Texas.

Looking a little farther out, May and June are typically two of the wettest months for Texas, regardless of El Niño status, giving us a chance for additional improvements before the full onset of summer, says Wentzel

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/14/24 based on information from Dr. Mark Wentzel – Hydrologist, TWDB

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