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Recent rains improve lake, drought levels

June 27, 2014 at 1:27 a.m.


LUBBOCK (AP) - Plentiful rainfall this past week improved conditions across Texas, although 69 percent of the state remained in some drought stage, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

Just less than 5 percent of the state was in the driest category on the map, down from about 6.6 percent a week ago. The amount of the state in drought stage was only a modest improvement from the 71 percent a week earlier.

Lakes around the state have benefited and are at nearly two-thirds of capacity.

Statewide, Texans got more rain in May (4.03 inches) than normal, and June is on track to also surpass its normal of 3.44 inches.

Texas is in better shape drought-wise when compared to 2011, the state's driest year ever. More than 72 percent of the state was in exceptional drought, the driest category, at the end of June 2011. Lake levels then were 73 percent full after a very wet 2010.

May and June are the state's wettest months in Texas. Now come the dog days of summer, which forecasters are saying won't be nearly as hot as 2011.

Two lakes in particular gained from heavy rainfall over the past week. On Saturday, Lake Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, was at 48 percent of capacity - the lowest since the lake first held water. After a deluge of as much as 7 inches Sunday, the lake's level jumped 33 percent to 66 percent of capacity. The rain added about 6.5 million gallons of water to the lake.

Last weekend's rain also significantly upped the level of Lake Whitney, about 70 miles south of Fort Worth. The lake added about 18 million gallons of water and went from 60 percent capacity to 70 percent capacity in a 48-hour period.

Wichita Falls, about 110 miles northwest of Fort Worth and in exceptional drought, gained little from the past week's rains. The city has banned irrigation, attempted to increase rainfall with cloud seeding and is now awaiting approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates public water sources, for a toilet-to-tap reuse program.

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