“Due to the these conditions, all areas of the county have implemented water restrictions based upon the drought contingency plans in order to conserve water supplies,” noted County Emergency Management Coordinator Chad Jordan.
Jordan recommended checking with local water suppliers as to specific restrictions or recommendations to prevent violating the restrictions which can lead to fines and termination of service.
“During times of extreme shortages, such as these, cooperation from everyone is greatly appreciated,” he continued. “Water is one of the communities’ most precious resources and needs to be preserved to ensure adequate supplies for essential uses such as drinking, cooking and hygiene. Also, with the extreme drought conditions, adherence to the burn ban is a must. With the current water levels as they are, water does not need to be diverted for fire fighting efforts which would greatly reduce our amounts even further.”
Victor Murphy, climate service program manager for the National Weather Service Southern Region based in Fort Worth, concurred.
“The latest US Drought Monitor shows all of Palo Pinto County in either D3 (extreme) or D4 (exceptional) drought,” Murphy reported. “These are the two worst categories.
The latter, D4, means that the area so designated is having drought conditions that should occur once every 50 to 100 years.
“The drawdown of Lake Palo Pinto in the past year has been rather alarming,” he continued. “From 12,657 acre-feet of storage one year ago to 4,872 acre-feet now. Obviously, at that pace, absent some significant recharge, the outlook is rather grim. A loss of nearly 8,000 acre-fee — the lowest since it was impounded back in 2000.”
Murphy noted that, going back to 1948, this has been the driest consecutive 46-month period on record for Mineral Wells. All other drier such periods basically ended somewhere between 1954 and March 1957.
“The six year drought from 1950 to early 1957 is easily considered the ‘drought of record’ for most of Texas,” Murphy continued. “The 46 month period ending on July 31, 2014 recorded 88.36 inches of rain. This is the current period between Oct. 1, 2010, and July 31, 2014. Clearly the driest period for Mineral Wells-Palo Pinto County since the mid 1950s.”
He reported that for the 46.5 month period between Oct. 1, 2010, and Aug. 15, 2014, Mineral Wells has seen 89.21-inches of rain. The normal amount should be 124, inches, a deficit of 35 inches. Normal yearly precipitation should be 33 inches, so, in essence, during the last four years, one complete year of precipitation is “missing.”
“In the shorter term, from July 1 through Aug. 15, they have had 1.76 inches of rain, or about 60 percent of the normal of 3.08 inches,” he noted. “Again, they are not only dry in the long term, but also in the short term.”
(Editor’s note: Late last week, parts of Palo Pinto County received as much as an inch of rain.)