U.S. Drought Portal


Southern Plains

Text dated monthly. Current version is Mar 20, 2014. Images and statistics update more frequently.

Current Drought

Oklahoma: The amount of OK in extreme drought has tripled since January 1st.
New Mexico: Jan/Feb 2014 was the driest since 1895. Amount of NM in extreme drought has increased six fold since January 1st.
Texas: Jan/Feb 2014 was the 5th driest going back to 1895. Amount of TX in extreme drought has more than doubled since January 1st.

Region None D0-D4 D1-D4 D2-D4 D3-D4 D4

Current/Ongoing Drought Impacts

New Mexico: Despite near record September wetness, 3 of the 4 largest reservoirs remain 15% or less of storage capacity. The largest, Elephant Butte, is at only 15% of capacity.
Texas: Long-term (hydrologic) drought remains for the state as a whole. Statewide reservoir capacity is only at 64% of capacity, the lowest ever for this time of year since 1990. Water releases to rice farmers in Lower Colorado River cut off for third straight year. Persistent drought in northwest TX has resulted in the City of Wichita Falls declaring Stage 4 Drought Disaster water restrictions.
Oklahoma: Lake Altus in southwest Oklahoma at less than 12% of capacity.

Southern Plains Drought Outlook

The region is emerging from one of its driest winters on record, a period that has exacerbated drought conditions in many areas of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.
May and June are the wettest months of the year climatologically in Oklahoma and Texas; any short-term improvements in drought conditions will be critically linked to rainfall during this period. In 2011, an abnormally dry spring season preceded one of the region's hottest and driest summers on record.
NOAA is tracking the potential development of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean; the impacts of this event on the region's drought are uncertain, but potentially beneficial, especially as we move into the fall season and beyond.

Drought Summary

  • Jan/Feb was very dry, with NM having its driest ever since 1895, and OK and TX having their 4th and 5th driest respectively
  • Drought to persist or worsen in NM and much of west TX and western OK.
  • Experimental forecast guidance from NOAAs Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences suggests a 60% likelihood of El Nino by the end of summer.

3-Month Outlook - Precipitation

  • Equal chances of below, above, or near normal precipitation expected across all 3 states.
  • Generally, the spring months are relatively dry for NM. Usually, TX and OK see significant increases in rain during May.
  • High probability of drought redeveloping and/or worsening across NM and west TX and western OK.

3-Month Outlook - Temperature

  • Increased chances for above normal temperatures for all of TX/NM/OK.
  • Increased Evaporation of any rain that does fall is likely with higher temperatures … further exacerbating surface reservoir water deficits.

Additional Information


The Southern Plains Drought Outlook narrative is provided by the NWS Southern Region Headquarters (SRH) Regional Operations Center (ROC).  The SRH ROC is one of the NOAA Weather Ready Nation Pilot Projects and a primary objective of the SRH ROC Pilot is to provide weather, water, and climate Decision Support Services to regional scale partners.


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