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Drought/Burn Bans/Fire Hazards

County-wide burn bans through September 1

Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, August 4, 2009
U.S. Drought Monitor, August 25, 2009

August 6 – The drought has reduced the water flow at Pedernales Falls State, near Johnson City, to 0.03 cubic feet per second, compared to a normal level of 16 cfs. However, the park is still thriving, because visitors still find the desert environment to be just as appealing as the water falls that normally run through the park.

August 13 – At least 9 counties in Central and South Texas are officially experiencing their worst drought since precipitation records started being kept in 1895. After studying precipitation, state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon concluded that Bastrop, Caldwell and Lee counties in Central Texas, and Victoria, Bee, San Patricio, Live Oak, Jim Wells and Duval counties in south-central Texas have been hit hardest by the current drought.

August 16 – A lack of rainfall in South has left both precipitation levels and the bottom line at gardening businesses well below normal. The dryness affects the inventory when in the store and also the motivation for customers to purchase plants.

August 24 – Famed Texas author Elmer Kelton, generally known as the best Western writer of all time, passed away at the age of 83 in San Angelo. Kelton garnered great notoriety for his work, "The Time It Never Rained," written about the severe drought of the 1950s. "Drought is like a hungry roaming wolf, returning periodically to old haunts to kill again," Kelton wrote in a Texas Monthly article published in July 1996.

August 25 – The hot, dry summer has busted old pipes unable to cope with the extreme climate, playing havoc with the city of Bloomington's water system. The water pressure has dropped below 20 PSI, prompting the city to put out a notice to boil water. City officials say that $2.5 million dollars has been granted by the state to fix the aging water system.

August 30 – WaterSmart is an eco-friendly car wash company that wipes vehicles clean with a spray that looks like orange juice and smells like Tang. The owners of the company say about 6 ounces of the cleaning product, which is made up of 98% water, is used per car. By comparison, water use in conventional carwashes ranges from 15 to 70 gallons.

Burn Bans/Fires

August 15 – Twenty three different states have sent about 100 fire crews to Texas providing extra fire fighting resources with an anticipated increase in fires the rest of the summer.

August 18 – Six firefighters from Alabama armed with two brush trucks are in South Texas for two weeks helping to fight three large fires in the Coastal Bend that have already claimed thousands of acres according to the Texas Forest Service.

August 19 – A grassfire centered about 14 miles northwest of Dryden has been contained by the Terrell County volunteer fire department, with aid by the Texas Forest Service. No injuries were reported from the blaze that has burned 710 acres and at one time threatened six homes.

August 24 – Texas Gov. Rick Perry has sent a second letter to President Obama requesting an emergency declaration for Texas due to the extreme fire hazard caused by the drought.

August 30 – Two major grass fires, one in Shackelford County and the other in Coleman County, were 100% contained as of the night of the 30th. The fire scorched 1,640 acres and threatened six homes, 15 outbuildings and a wind farm with 60 generators, but all were saved with no injuries or damages reported.

Water Supply

August 2 – Canyon Lake has been dropping an average of a foot a week this summer. Every day, the lake sets a new record low as the most severe drought on record refuses to abate over Central and South Texas.

August 3 – It was revealed that the wealthiest people in Dallas and Fort Worth are consuming water at a rate 40 to 90 times that of the average customer according to an investigative report.

August 5 – As Lake Travis dropped to its lowest level in three years, Austin city officials are wondering whether more can be done to limit water usage. The city of Austin is in the second year of a 10-year water conservation plan, but statistics show that residents in San Antonio use a third less water than Austin residents.

August 7 – The determination of watering restrictions during the current drought has been left up to the individual cities. Each city's water suppler is required to have a plan of action during a drought, but the diagnosis of drought severity and the measures to take in different scenarios are completely left to the individual cities.

August 9 – The city of Frisco is emailing city residents recommendations on water usage. City officials are also offering free irrigation checkups and tips for economical water usage, saying an abundance of water is wasted in automatic sprinkler systems.

August 12 – Because severe drought in the region has steadily depleted the water levels of lakes Buchanan and Travis, the Lower Colorado River Authority is preparing to initiate mandatory water restrictions this week. The water storage level of the two lakes was at 908,000 acre-feet on the 11th. Mandatory water restrictions are automatically enacted by the LCRA when the level drops below 900,000 acre-feet.

August 12 – Officials from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the San Antonio Water System were unable to resolve a dispute during a recent session. The dispute indicated that a proposed joint project would be unable to provide water for the city of San Antonio if all legislative requirements were met.

August 14 – The city of Austin has implemented strict watering restrictions that include limiting lawn watering to once a week, restricting restaurants to serve water only to customer requesting it, banning of charity car washes, and prohibiting fountains except to provide aeration for aquatic life. There is a minimum fine of $400 for failing to comply with these measures.

August 15 – Residents of Galveston use more water on average than any other large city in Texas, prompting the city council to adopt new measures to reduce the consumption of water by 3 percent over the next 10 years.

August 16 – Though drought conditions are currently much worse to the south, significant steps are being taken by the Abilene city council to ensure Abilene and surrounding communities have enough water to withstand future droughts. The plan reduces the amount of water made available each year from the Lake Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir to keep enough water in the reservoir to survive the worst ever historical drought in the region.

August 16 – As the city of Austin suffered through drought, Vignette founder Neil Webber appeared on the list of top 10 water users in each of the past six months, using enough water (1.74 million gallons) to fill about three Olympic-size swimming pools.

August 18 – An active seabreeze pattern has brought needed relief to Montgomery County in Southeast Texas, but the cities of Conroe and The Woodlands say more rain is needed in order to ease restrictions on watering that are part of a drought contingency plan implemented in June.

August 19 – An active seabreeze pattern has brought needed relief to Montgomery County in Southeast Texas, but the cities of Conroe and The Woodlands say more rain is needed in order to ease restrictions on watering that are part of a drought contingency plan implemented in June.

August 22 – The Southern Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, formerly the McLennan County Groundwater Conservation District, is hoping that the name change will help recruit neighboring counties to join their district, a deadline that needs to be met by 2013 to avoid dissolution.

August 24 – The Brazos River Authority reports Lake Georgetown is dropping a foot a week, and there has been 50 percent more water used this year than last year at this time. Round Rock has implemented Stage 2 water restrictions, meaning residents must limit their outside watering to twice a week.

August 25 – The Brazos River Authority announced Aug. 25 that the drought in Central Texas has reached Level 2 status for the first time on record. The City of Georgetown has not yet enacted mandatory water restrictions, but encourages residents to follow a voluntary outdoor watering schedule, which is based on the last digit of residents' addresses

August 25 – The United States Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Val Verde County, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Water Development Board have scheduled a public meeting to explain the operating criteria for Amistad Reservoir in the event of flood conditions, the potential for flooding in the floodplain, and emergency notification procedures.

August 25 – The Guadalupe Blanco River Authority announced Tuesday that, without any significant rainfall, it will implement Stage 2 water restrictions for landowners with property adjacent to Dunlap, McQueeney, Nolte, Placid, Gonzales, and Wood Lakes beginning September 1st.

Agricultural Impacts


August 1 - Southeast Texas ranchers say corn crops produced so little this season, it's not even worth spending money to harvest what did grow.

August 3 - Losses to farmers and ranchers in Victoria County have already reached $30.1 million this year. This includes a reduction in cattle herd numbers ($9.3 million), losses in hay and pasture production ($7.2 million), increased feed costs ($4 million), corn ($3.3 million), soybeans ($2.5 million), grain sorghum ($0.9 million), and cotton ($0.1 million).cit

August 7 – The drought has led to the theft of hay in Caldwell County and has prompted authorities to set up surveillance and to warn farmers to store the hay in a secure location.

August 9 – Droves of fall armyworms have been spotted in Brazoria County, magnifying the effects of the drought since these pests can do significant damage to crops. It is recommended farmers spray their field with pesticide if there are three or more fall armyworms per square foot.

August 10 – Central Texas vineyard owners are growing concerned after a late April freeze and intense summer heat has reduced the number of quality grapes grown.

August 13 – The 2009 pecan crop is expected to do very well despite the extreme drought because the roots of pecan trees are very deep and can access underground water sources. An additional reason is a lack of pests and insects that can bother the trees.

August 13 – For the first time in over a century of production, the entire cotton crop in Kleberg County was a total loss. All across the Coastal Bend, the news is not much better with old-timers saying this drought has been much worse on the cotton crop than the previous measuring stick, the drought of the 1950s.

August 14 – The drought over South Texas has caused a catastrophic loss to the corn, sorghum, and cotton crops with a direct loss of $600 millions dollars to producers. The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a relief program for farmers and ranchers that should take effect the last week of September.

August 21 – Despite a relatively productive pecan crop, do not expect pecans to be as large as normally expected due to the severe drought.

August 27 – One plant that has survived the extreme drought conditions in South Texas is the sesame, one of the oldest know crops in the worlds. The drought-resistant plant only needs 25 percent of the water needed for corn, 33 percent of water needed for grain sorghum and 50 percent of the water needed for cotton.


August 4 – A new disaster assistance program for ranchers called the Grassland Reserve Program was created to assist landowners and operators in protecting grazing uses and conserving grasslands.

August 20 – A survey by the US Department of Agriculture showed the area of Texas suffering through drought contained roughly two million beef cattle, or 6% of the country's total. Cattle numbers in the most severe areas have decreased by about 15% this year due to a lack of grass for grazing and a more than twofold increase in the price of hay that has made cattle ranching too costly.

August 20 – Six gulf coast area residents have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and filing false claims relating to loss of cattle as a result of Hurricane Rita, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Other Climate Impacts

Air Quality

August 2 - The American Lung Association grades Denton County air quality an "F," identifying 230,000 people as being at risk on days with large amounts of ozone in the air. The Denton Airport's monitoring station has logged 84 bad-air days in 2009, with July 2 as the worst day so far, with 91 parts per billion of ozone in the air for eight hours.

August 17 – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality sent helicopters over the greater Houston area equipped with infrared cameras that can detect pollution invisible to the eye.

Animals/Aquatic Life

August 1 - The drought in South Texas may soon force alligators to begin migrating and finding more suitable places to live. If you live near a body of water, don't be surprised if you someday find an alligator in it.

August 1 - With the drought reducing spring flows to levels not seen in roughly a decade, the Edwards Aquifer Authority is spending $125,000 for scientists to determine how the drought is affecting small critters in the Edwards Aquifer.

August 5 – Animal control was called after an El Paso dog was left in triple digit heat for days without food, water, or shelter.

August 6 – Scientists are worried that the prolonged drought may push the Barton Springs salamander to the verge of extinction without relief in the near future. Texas wild rice, which only grows along a small section of the San Marcos River, is also in trouble due to a lack of streamflow.

August 10 – A wet summer in the Permian Basin has brought some unwanted visitors with rattlesnake populations on the rise. Rat and Mice populations have increased due to the abundance of rainfall, causing rattlesnake to show up in dark, damp places where they will wait for their next meal.

August 15 – Texas Parks and Wildlife land conservation director Ted Hollingsworth say that the Texas heat may be too much for some species of fish and birds. The Texas land and water plan is taking a scientific approach to conserve and manage natural resources.

August 20 – There has been an increase in South Texas of a skin disease that afflicts animals called Sarcoptic Mange due to the drought. This is caused by a mite that gets under an animal's skin causing total hair loss and wrinkling of skin due to an overexposure to UV radiation.


August 1 - According to a survey, many Dallas area school districts aren't following established guidelines for keeping football players safe from the side effects of practicing in the heat, such as muscle cramps, heat stroke and, in rare cases, death.

August 2 - Baylor joined nine other Big 12 schools when the $11 million Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility opened in time for preseason practice. The facility will allow the Bears to practice regardless of heat or inclement weather.

August 11 – High school football players all across the state have started two-a-day practices in the intense heat. Coaches at Anderson High School have opted to do a week without full pads to improve conditioning before donning the pads for full contact practices.

August 18 – The drought in Central Texas has left football practice fields dry and hard, and conditions could become worse with the stricter water restrictions cities such as Austin are implementing. Hays CISD stopped watering its practice fields last spring in order to meet a mandate to reduce water consumption by 30 percent, a condition that has greatly increased the number of abrasions and ankle injuries.

August 26 – A Vernon Middle School student was found unresponsive at home and was later pronounced dead the morning after he went through football practice. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures were around 105 degrees at the time of practice, which lasted about an hour.

Extreme Heat

August 3 – A Brownsville woman was arrested on charges of abandoning and endangering a child after leaving her 4 year-old in a parked car. The child became this first in Texas to die this year from being left in a parked car after attempts to resuscitate the child failed.

August 4 – A widespread power outage at Texas A&M University at Kingsville left the entire campus without air conditioning, which caused administrators to shut the campus down.

August 7 – The excessive heat coupled with a lack of rainfall is wreaking havoc with trees in Corpus Christi, even those that have been around for decades. Experts advise that keeping up with mulching and soaking the trees roots when watering is the best way to keep trees healthy.

August 14 – Auto shops around Central Texas say car batteries, whose lifetime is shortened by extreme heat, have been failing more frequently this summer as temperatures have routinely surpassed 100 degrees.

August 17 – The body of a beloved youth pastor from Lubbock was found on the 14th by hikers in Palo Duro Canyon. The tragedy was believed to be caused by heat stroke as Nathan Kyle Neel was hiking alone just a couple weeks after he accepted his dream job as a youth pastor at New Home Baptist Church.

August 19 – Two illegal immigrants died from heat exhaustion on the 18th after crossing the Rio Grande River near Salenino in southern Starr County.

August 29 – A near-perfect alignment of adverse weather conditions made July the hottest month ever recorded in Austin, which has magnified historical drought conditions. The prognosis for an increase in precipitation is promising as high pressure that controls the weather over most Central

Texas summers usually break down in September. Also, a strengthening El Nino usually means above normal winter precipitation.


August 17 – The record drought has combined with the downswing in the economy to make buyers and sellers cautious about making large transactions for land selling in the Hill Country. Texas rural land sales have dropped 50 percent this year according to a research economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

August 31 – The Insurance Council of Texas is urging residents of Texas to be prepared for future storms by conducting its fourth annual tour of coastal regions in the state. Hurricane Ike brought more than 800,000 claims, with more than $10 billion in insured losses, according to the council.


August 1 - Biologists say fishing is actually good in many parts of Texas, and some fisheries could even improve long-term. In Central Texas, the drought could end up making fishing better in the long run on lakes like Travis and Buchanan.

August 3 – The city of Kerrville has moved to Stage 3 watering restrictions, meaning that the City Pool closed this past Sunday because swimming pools can no longer be refilled under these restrictions.

August 6 – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department reports that the dry conditions over much of the state will actually improve dove hunting this season.

August 8 – The widespread drought has deteriorated some of the best deer hunting habitats in the state in the Edwards Plateau and South Texas, but the forecast remains good for hunters further north in the Panhandle.

August 9 – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regional director says that deer hunting in areas of West Texas picking up rainfall this summer may be better than normal. The precipitation produces range conditions that are beneficial for the nutrition and health of the deer.

August 10 – The drought in Austin that has closed 11 of the 12 public boat ramps at Lake Travis has provided more business for Bell County marinas and those who rent boats.

August 12 – The exceptional drought in the Austin area had another landmark moment with the closure of the ramp at Mansfield Dam, which had been the last usable public boat ramp at Lake Travis.

August 22 – Thousands of hunters across Texas are looking forward to September 1st, the official opening of dove hunting season. About 40 million doves reside in the state, accounting for 10 percent of the national population, and dove hunting brings about $300 million to the Texas economy each year.

August 27 – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed the public boat ramp at Jim Hogg Park at Lake Georgetown because of extremely low water levels resulting from the drought. The lake, which is 23 feet below its conservation lake level and the depth of water at the ramp is insufficient for launching and retrieving most boats.

Hurricane Impacts

August 3 – Cameron County was awarded $3 million in funds by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to repair more than 100 structures damaged by Hurricane Dolly in July 2008.

August 4 – The city of Galveston has implemented a bar code tracking system in which hurricane evacuees would get a wrist band with a bar code. In the case of a future hurricane, the wrist band would be scanned when boarding buses or entering shelters.

August 8 – Galveston city officials are saying that contractors cleaning up debris from Hurricane Ike are illegally using city streets as dump sites. However, the reports of illegal dumping have decreased significantly in the past six months, but practice still costs taxpayers since this waste is not covered under federal debris-removal funding,

August 15 – The cities of Galveston and Houston are receiving a smaller slice of federal disaster funding (37%) than earlier this year (62%), with the amount of funding given to each region based on a weather model that considers storm surge, wind, and rainfall.

August 17 – The Texas General Land Office has released maps of new boundaries of public beaches in Galveston and Brazoria counties severely eroded by Hurricane Ike nearly a year ago. The new boundaries replace the temporary line of vegetation the land office had set up that allowed homes 4 1/2 feet above sea level or higher to be rebuilt.

August 22 – Scientists are worried about the future of Galveston Bay, both as an ecosystem and as a defense from future hurricanes, expected to be both stronger and more frequent in coming years with a rise in sea level. The ecosystems residing in Galveston Bay have had little trouble recovering from hurricanes in the past, with the exception of the human factors including garbage and pollution.

August 26 – Entergy Texas customers will begin to pay for the electric utility's recovery costs due to Hurricane Ike. Beginning in December an extra $5.40 a month will show up on an average bill, boosting the average monthly electric bill to $112.

August 29 – Experts suggest that several thousand of the nearly 66,000 original Katrina evacuees still call North Texas home. This includes Eugene "Soupman" Rouzan, a retired electric company worker and former Army cook who felt called to help the homeless after he lost his own home in Hurricane Katrina.

August 31 – Recent rains in Galveston have clogged drains that were filled by debris and sand swept into the drains by Hurricane Ike. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will foot 100% of the bill to clean out the drains, which will take four months to complete.

Severe Storms/Inclement Weather

August 11 – Lake O' the Pines is more than 2 feet above flood stage and opened the spillway to avoid flooding bodies of water downstream. The release of water caused a streamflow rate more than 100 times its normal rate, boosting the fishing of crappie, white bass, and sand bass.

August 12 – Storms that brought much-needed rainfall to Austin left 2,800 homes and businesses without power, with the majority of the outages in Central Austin resulting from winds gusts clocked at over 50 mph.

August 18 – The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF1 tornado touched down in Beaumont's busy Westside retail district. The tornado ripped through the local Barnes and Noble, Kohl's, Macy's, Petco, and Wal-Mart stores at Parkdale Mall sending 10 patients to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

August 19 – Residents of El Paso have grown concerned about the possibility of flooding and want the city to install a proper drainage system to prevent the type of damage to property foundations that occurred in 2006.

August 19 – A construction worker died after heavy rainfall flooded a tunnel he was working in. The workers were trying to free a drill bit that was stuck when a fast-moving storm hit the area.

August 21 – Lightning across the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area caused numerous strikes, which unfortunately included a Dallas home going up in flames on the very day a new family was moving in. A family in Fort Worth suffered mostly roof damage and quite a scare when lightning struck their home with family members inside.

August 21 – Several volunteer fire department workers could not save a home struck by early morning lightning in Eastern Parker County.

August 21 – Oncor reported that around 15,000 customers were without power in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, including Mesquite. In Carrollton, vehicles were stalling out due to high water resulting from the strong storms, which dumped more than an inch and a half of rain in a short period.

August 23 – A fast-moving storm brought much-needed precipitation to Central Texas, but also caused damage and knocked down power lines in Falls County and McLennan County. One home in Hewitt suffered major da/mage as a tree fell through the roof and 70 mph winds knocked over a 40-foot tree on Spring Valley Road.

August 26 – A quick-moving storm left behind extensive damage in Taylor after winds up to 65 mph blew through town around 5pm on Tuesday. The damage is citywide, but the downtown area seems to have suffered the brunt of the storm including a piece of the roof on a historic building was ripped off and thrown across the street.

August 27 – As more wind farms are built in Texas, they're now being blamed for disrupting weather forecasts. The problems started showing up about three years ago and seem to occur where a wind farm is built within about 11 miles of a radar site.

August 27 – Several thousand CPS Energy customers in San Antonio area were without power late Thursday as heavy rain, high winds and lightning hit area. Firefighters have said that a blaze at the Big Texas Grain Company may have been ignited by a lightning strike.

August 28 – A pregnant woman in Bedford was struck by lightning and had to be revived with CPR before being taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. The woman was struck as she got out of her car, and unfortunately the unborn child did not survive and the woman died three days later.

August 31 – A waterspout that formed over Galveston Bay came onshore as a tornado, leaving at least three people injured. The National Weather Service estimated that winds were 80-90 mph, leaving behind a damage path of about a third of a mile in length and about 100 yards wide.

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