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The State of Texas observed an August that included a wide-range of meteorological events within its 31 calendar days. Extensive heat, strong thunderstorms, heavy rain, severe flooding, and tropical cyclone conditions all occurred during this late summer month. These meteorology phenomena were extensive in their occurrence, reaching all regions of the state and widely affecting all Texas residents substantially. Texas began the month with several regions classified as severe drought, moderate drought, and abnormally dry, though with heavy mid-month rain storms and the passage and stalling of Hurricane Harvey, many of these classifications were removed with less than one percent of the state remaining in moderate drought.

Dozens of Texas counties experienced burn ban designations during August due to the hot and dry conditions. These conditions helped provide perfect situations for grass fires throughout the state. Firefighters from DeWitt County, two nearby counties, and the Texas A&M Forest Service were called to respond to a larger grass fire in Cuero, Texas that burned an estimated 400 to 800 acres of land. The fire provided a large threat to structures and homes within the area, and burned a large storage trailer in the area. Homeowner is Bastrop County were also threatened by a large fire near highway 71 that burned nearly 21 acres. Roads and campsites at Royal Pines were opened the following day while firefighters continued to battle the flames that were then 95 percent contained. Numerous regions throughout Texas slipped into notable drought conditions at the beginning of the month as little rain fell and temperatures remained consistently high. Bastrop County observed a categorization of moderate drought with some areas designated severe drought on the first of the month as the county saw only 0.02 inches of rain in the previous two weeks and at least three brush fires. The City of Kyle was another area substantially affected by limited rainfall and high temperature as it was designated a Stage 2 water conservation area during the initial days of the month. After heavy rains during the latter parts of August, nearly all of the state improved drought conditions with less than one percent being designated as “moderate drought” (D1).

Warm temperatures and moisture provided by oceanic air masses in the Gulf made for perfect storm-forming conditions in this late summer season. Many regions of Texas, including the DFW Metroplex, Central Texas, and Southern areas of the state saw temperatures consistently reach the upper 90s with heat index values in excess of 100 degrees. The North Texas region was most susceptible to severe storms during this month. DFW saw severe storms within the first week of August that brought damaging winds in excess of 51 mph, strong hail, and leaving about 12,000 homes without power in Tarrant in and Parker counties.

Heavy rain and flooding by strong storms was a frequent event during the middle portions of the month of August. Lingering showers and storms brought heavy rains and flooding to the Central Texas area throughout the first and second weekend of the month. Some regions saw a total of two to four inches, while some localized areas observed upward of five total inches. In Bexar County, crews were called to a water rescue after a man driving his SUV got stuck in fast moving water, though was able to climb out of the roof where firefighters rescued him. High water in the Houston area in early August caused many cars to stall out and flood forcing nearby residents to help each other out to push cars with stranded families to safety.

Arguably the most consequential event during this month was the passage of Hurricane Harvey. What had initially begun as tropical wave off the Lesser Antilles, generating into a tropical storm near the Windward Islands, weakening then re-intensifying into a Category 4 major Hurricane, Hurricane Harvey had devastating effects in for the Gulf Coast region. After making landfall near Rockport, Texas, the storm caused significant damage to the city with sustained winds in excess of 130 mph and heavy downpours. After stalling in the southeast Texas region, torrential and continuous downpours were the largest threats of the storm. The Houston saw a record 50+ inches of rainfall over approximately 2 days leading to severe flash flooding. Southeast Texas residents were also threatened to by the flooding of chemical plants that exposed volatile compounds to the risk of combustion. Numerous major oil refineries across the Gulf Coast such as, Phillips 66 and Mobil were forced to close during the storm. It is expected that Harvey will have lasting effects on the residents of the Gulf Coast. The City of Beaumont announced that the water supply was lost during intense flooding. Only a small percentage of homeowners in southeast Texas possess home insurance, leaving them responsible for all repairs and or without a home for the foreseeable future.

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