In the wake of a very dry autumn, periods of rain began to develop across the region in December and continued off and on through the first half of January.  Since December 1st , totals of 2-4 inches have been recorded across the Hill Country while totals of 2-6 inches have been recorded across Central Texas and the middle Texas coast.  Wharton County has been the big winner, with totals of 8 to more than 10 inches.

Comparing these totals to normal, amounts have been near-normal to about an inch above-normal across the Hill Country, a good part of Central Texas and the middle Texas coast.  However, totals have been 1-2 inches below normal across much of Fayette County and the southern half of Wharton County.

Rainfall Departure from Normal Last 60 Days

Data courtesy National Weather Service River Forecast Center

Thursday’s updated National Drought Monitor shows the recent periods of rain have been very helpful in improving drought conditions.

The latest update shows moderate drought, the first of four levels of drought covering the Hill Country, from Brady south to near Llano and Mason and on to Fredericksburg, Kerrville, and San Marcos.  This same area had been classified as severe or extreme drought just a few weeks ago.

Moderate drought is also noted south and southeast of Austin between New Braunfels, Bastrop/Smithville, La Grange and Victoria.

“Abnormally Dry” conditions are now indicated for the majority of Central Texas.  Abnormally Dry is not a drought category and generally refers to areas where the drought has ended, but some drought impacts still linger.

The middle Texas coast and Southeast Texas were shown to be drought-free.

A moderate La Nina remains in place and La Nina’s most often produce a pattern of drier than-normal weather across Texas and the southern U.S. during the winter months. The December and January rains have been very nice but will they continue in February and March?  The latest long-range outlooks are not very optimistic.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more details.