Drought Watch: Winter Precipitation

We saw winter precipitation for the first time this season on Friday, November 22. Texoma was hit by sleet and freezing rain, but even though frozen precipitation doesn't have the same impact on our lakes as rain does. It still helps us out.

Wichita Falls Utilities Operations Manager Daniel Nix said "It did lower the evaporation and the rate of decline in the lakes... it looks more like a winter type decline, where we only lose about a tenth to two tenths of a percent per week."

There were two main reasons why the evaporation rates went down.

"One, the air is cooler and so you don't have that heating affect on the lake body. Two, the humidity was up so the air was saturated with moisture and it couldn't take anymore in," said Nix.

Frozen precipitation is still water. Any form of water that falls into the lakes raises the lake levels, but it has to fall directly over the lakes to fill them.

Certified Broadcast Chief Meteorologist Ken Johnson said "[Sleet and freezing rain] is falling to the ground and sticking to the ground. [The ice] is not turning to liquid right away. It's just kind of sitting there. It's not running off. It's not producing water that is running off into the creeks, ditches and streams that eventually fills ups our lakes."

Even though North Texas saw mostly sleet and freezing rain, snow wouldn't of had much more of an impact either.

"One inch of rain equals ten inches of snow... There is a big difference [between rain and snow]. You get an inch of rain and it runs off into the lakes, while 10 inches of snow... slowly melts and causes just a little bit of runoff," said Johnson

Even though winter precipitation doesn't help us out as much as water. Nix said we'll take anything we can get.

Most of the rain that has fallen in Texoma over the last month has been very light. Most of the water that falls during a light rain gets absorbed into the ground like winter precipitation.

Johnson said we need a lot of heavy rain to really break the drought.