ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Exceptional drought conditions are creeping back into the Abilene area for the first time in the last decade, causing local lake and water levels to take a drastic dive.

The second week of July marks the first time Taylor County has seen these ‘exceptional drought’ conditions since 2011, which is currently the hottest year on record.

100% of Taylor County in now in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and more than half (53.49% to be exact) of the county is is experiencing exceptional drought.

Drought monitor records show that the only other time any portion of Taylor County has experienced this severe of a drought in the past 22 years was in 2011, where 100% of the county was experiencing exceptional drought conditions in July and August. 

Water levels and lake levels not only around Abilene but the rest of the Big Country have fallen significantly in the past year, decreasing by an average of 23% across the board.

Lake Abilene has seen the most dramatic decrease, going from 98% full one year ago to just under 49% full now.

WaterDataforTexas.org shows the current lake levels as follows, as compared to what they were 6 months and 1 year ago:

  • Lake Abilene 
    Today: 48.6%  6 months: 72.6% 1 year: 98.5%       
    decrease of 49.9%
  • Lake Brownwood
    Today: 72.3% 6 months: 90.7% 1 year: 98.1%
    decrease of 25.8%
  • Lake Cisco
    Today: 78.0% 6 months: 86.1% 1 year: 96.0%
    decrease of 18%
  • Lake Coleman
    Today: 80.5% 6 months: 92.3% 1 year: 88.5
    decrease of 8%
  • Lake Colorado City
    Today: 60.5% 6 months: 73.0% 1 year: 83.5%
    decrease of 23%
  • Lake Ft. Phantom Hill 
    Today: 73.4% 6 months: 92.3% 1 year: 100%
    decrease of 26.6%
  • Hord’s Creek Reservoir 
    Today: 33.8% 6 months: 42.0% 1 year: 48.7%
    decrease of 14.9%
  • Hubbard Creek Reservoir
    Today: 75.7% 6 months: 86.5% 1 year: 98.9%
    decrease of 23.2%
  • Lake O.H. Ivie 
    Today: 44.7% 6 months: 53.6% 1 year: 58.6%
    decrease of 13.9%
  • Lake Stamford
    Today: 71.0% 6 months: 85.1% 1 year: 100%
    decrease of 29%
  • Lake Sweetwater
    Today: 67.3% 6 months: 79.2% 1 year: 88.2%
    decrease of 20.9%

There is no public record showing exactly how much the bodies of water at some of Abilene’s popular recreation areas, such as Lake Kirby, Cal Young Park, and Grover Nelson Park, has dropped, but the gallery below shows their current conditions:

Abilene has also just seen the driest 365 day period in history, from July 2021 through June 2022, continuing the trend of record breaking heat. If this keeps up, 2022 will surpass 2011 as the hottest year recorded.

Click here for the latest 7-day forecast.