BIG COUNTRY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – This time of year is typically warm and dry for West Texas. There are days when it rains, storms, or a cold front comes through to cool things down a bit. But for an average day here, temperatures are 80° and above, the sun is out and the winds are blowing.

Over the past few years, climate research shows that we have been receiving less rain since 2020, with a noticeable decrease in total amounts in 2022.

NOWData via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Online Weather Data: Abilene rain between 2019 and 2023

From 2019 to 2021, about 24.66 inches fell per year. As seen in the graphic above, the drought conditions began to deteriorate during the 2022 year. Only 15 inches of rain was recorded for the year. That’s a little over half of the amount from the year before.

From March to July 2022, was the minimum amount of precipitation amounts in the past four years. In addition to that, temperatures were near or in the triple digits for a good part of the summer. Despite receiving over three inches last August and October, the lack of rain during the summer months took a toll on the ground.

A positive sign is this year has seen more rainfall as of today compared to last year, almost 1.5 inches more. With showers and storms on the way later this week, precipitation totals are expected to continue to rise.

As of Tuesday, the Day 3 Outlook has most of the Big Country under a slight risk of severe thunderstorms on Thursday. The main threats will be hail and strong winds, although an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out.

Unfortunately, rain amounts generally look to stay below half-an-inch besides areas which experience isolated storms, not helping the drought much at all. However, small rain chances will linger through the weekend, so there is potential for those totals to keep rising.

The graphic above is the drought outlook for the month of May. For most of West Texas, drought conditions are not expected to improve through the month. Areas east of the county line tp King Runnels counties can see drought conditions remain, but improve. Below is a closer look:

Both charts are in strong agreement on the cutoff line for drought conditions, but it isn’t much help for drought conditions in the western counties. The eastern half of the Big Country will see some improvement on drought conditions. Even a few areas are expecting drought conditions to end.

As the week progresses and we start to see showers and storms roll into the area, BCH meteorologists will be on top of everything, posting updates along the way.