In this study, we analyze 32 yr of terrestrial water storage (TWS) data obtained from the Interim Reanalysis Data (ERA-Interim) and Noah model from the Global Land Data Assimilation System (GLDAS-Noah) for the period 1979 to 2010. The accuracy of these datasets is validated using 26 yr (1979–2004) of runoff data from the Yichang gauging station and comparing them with 32 yr of independent precipitation data obtained from the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre Full Data Reanalysis Version 6 (GPCC) and NOAA's PRECipitation REConstruction over Land (PREC/L). Spatial and temporal analysis of the TWS data shows that TWS in the Yangtze River basin has decreased significantly since the year 1998. The driest period in the basin occurred between 2005 and 2010, and particularly in the middle and lower Yangtze reaches. The TWS figures changed abruptly to persistently high negative anomalies in the middle and lower Yangtze reaches in 2004. The year 2006 is identified as major inflection point, at which the system starts exhibiting a persistent decrease in TWS. Comparing these TWS trends with independent precipitation datasets shows that the recent decrease in TWS can be attributed mainly to a decrease in the amount of precipitation. Our findings are based on observations and modeling datasets and confirm previous results based on gauging station datasets.