Skip Nav

Drought/Burn Bans/Fire Hazards

County-wide burn bans through January 1

Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, December 2, 2008
U.S. Drought Monitor, December 30, 2008

Dec. 4 – Palo Pinto County issues warnings of fire danger as very high. Officials recognize a key aid in lessening fire danger is the lack of a killing freeze but still caution residents to be alert and make intelligent decisions when starting a fire.

Texas officials from around the state urge all Texans to be extremely careful with any type of fire. The wildfire threat for some areas of Texas that received plentiful rainfall during the summer, including far southern Texas, has increased due to large amounts of dry winter vegetation. Even an inch or two of precipitation in very dry areas will not decrease the fire hazard for very long.

Dec. 16 – Comal County and other Central Texas residents say they are experiencing the worst drought in their lives, with possibly the fifth lowest precipitation record ever. Texas AgriLife estimates an agricultural loss of $1.4 billion due to the continuing drought. The Edwards Aquifer is slightly below normal, thanks to a fall/winter dry period instead of a summer dry period.

Dec. 17 – Tarrant County officials have issued a 90 day outdoor burn ban. As with most of Central Texas, the county has received very little rainfall throughout the latter part of 2008. Deep freezes have created dead vegetation and a major fire hazard for the area.


Dec. 4 – San Antonio fireworks stores worry that officials will prohibit some or all types of fireworks in the drought stricken area. Many fireworks stands have recruited callers to urge city officials not to ban fireworks. The record drought conditions, however, have city officials leaning toward a ban on all fireworks.

Dec. 9 – Travis County officials have imposed a ban on some fireworks, including bottle rockets. The drought in the area has caused the fire hazard to be too great for setting off any missile-like fireworks.

Dec. 12 – Cameron County has likewise imposed the "missile with fins" and "skyrockets with sticks" fireworks ban. The severe drought affecting parts of Texas and wildfire risk is the primary cause.

Dec. 22 – Bell County officials have also declared a ban on all missile-like fireworks. Fire danger coupled with windy conditions makes such a ban completely necessary, officials say.

Agricultural Impacts


Dec. 14 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts good wheat yields, despite the fact that Texas producers are struggling for the year from the prolonged drought. Due to very dry conditions, 52% of Texas wheat crops labeled good to excellent in October has dropped to 35%, while very poor-poor rated crops have increased from 11-27%.


Dec. 11 – The USDA reports cotton production ran smoothly due to ideal weather in November. The Panhandle of Texas is down in yield due to an unusually cool summer. However, boll weights for Texas are estimated to be the second heaviest in 10 years.


Dec. 8 – The disease termed soybean rust is down in Texas due to very little rainfall. The drought in Texas helped to prevent the spread of this disease early in the season, though other wetter areas of the U.S. have been affected.


Dec. 15 – Pecan yields for 2008 are expected to be 32 million pounds, nearly half the yearly average of 60 million pounds, according to the Texas Agricultural Statistics Service. Low winter precipitation in 2007, along with disease from plentiful rainfall in the fall, produces very low pecan yields.


Dec. 3 -- Although calf and feed cattle markets are difficult to predict, David Anderson, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist has reason to believe prices will rise in 2009. Persistent drought and high costs have strained the industry during the latter part of the year, which should lead to better prices in the near future estimated at $1.05/lb for 500-600 pound No. 1 steers.

Dec. 15– Wintry weather could affect cattle health from bitterly cold temperatures in parts of the state, including a loss of weight, though dry conditions signal only minimal deaths in cattle numbers.

Dec. 16 -- Cold temperatures impede the beef market, though the week saw moderate strength in auction prices. Calf prices were down due to lack of demand from buyers as very little moisture has fallen in many parts of Texas.

Dec. 17 – High fertilizer prices have caused less than impressive winter grazing pastures, and supplemental feeding to cattle is necessary in many parts of North Texas. Low soil moisture caused less winter grass to be planted, and thus ranchers are supplementing cattle with hay and protein feed.

Dec. 22 - Estimated damage to farmers and ranchers in southeast Texas is estimated at $960 million. Furthermore, winter grass used to feed cattle has been destroyed by ocean salt from storm surge. According to the Texas Agrilife Extension Service, between 5000-8000 farm animals perished from the storm surge and displaced around 12,000 cattle due to downed fences.


Dec. 16 – Lake levels have dropped significantly in southern Texas, where prolonged drought has added little rain to lakebeds. Levels are from several inches to several feet below normal, and messy, wintry weather has caused angling conditions to worsen.

Dec. 17 – Dry conditions in southern Texas has dried up ponds that housed duck populations. Thus, the duck hunting season in southern Texas will suffer and duck numbers should be down from previous years. Cholera worries for geese are present due to little rainfall.

Wintry Weather

Dec. 10 -- Icy road conditions have caused 21 reported accidents in Lufkin, including a bus of children.

More than 75 reported accidents have occurred in Amarillo including a 19 car pileup and one confirmed death, according to the APD. Two inches of snow accumulated in the area.

Austin citizens woke up to patches of snow, though no accumulation remained as temperatures rose steadily.

Dallas residents are alerted to be cautious on slick icy roads. Two accidents have been reported thus far, including one caused by water frozen on the road from water sprinklers.

Southeast Texans couldn't believe their eyes when 6 inches of snow fell over parts of the area, which resulted in various school and bridge closings. Beaumont police reported 71 accidents in the area possibly caused by icy road conditions.

Dec. 15 – The Texas Department of Transportation prepares for icy conditions in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Residents are urged to be extremely cautious when approaching bridges and check for any road closures.

Dec. 16 – Dozens of schools in the Dallas Independent School District announce closures or opening delays due to icy conditions across the area. Residents should check updates on closures or delays for their children's schools.

Four are reported dead, including a 14 month old child, due to the wintry conditions on North Texas roadways. Dallas police suggest that three of the four fatal crashes were caused by speeding drivers on icy roads.

The Texas Department of Transportation in Sherman has begun to sand roads to combat icy conditions. The sand used to coat slick surfaces will cost the city $15/ton. TxDOT crews however warn residents to be cautious even if temperatures do warm up. Other construction projects in the Sherman area have been put on hold; materials used in construction cannot be placed in very cold temperatures.

Dec. 22 – Icy roads were reported in the Travis County area, leading to several minor crashes on slick roads, including two rollover accidents. The NWS expects warmer temperatures to put an end to the ice within the next day.

Other Climate Impacts

Severe Storms

Dec. 9 – Severe thunderstorms in Grayson County caused unknown damage and minor injuries to residents of the area. A police deputy reported a funnel cloud during the severe weather event. Further investigation of the storm will soon follow.

Strong winds of at least 60 mph hit El Paso, causing the collapse of an old mall. A few accidents occurred due to inclement weather, including a semi truck which was tipped over from the gusty winds.

Blustery winds also hit Lubbock, creating a blanket of dust to engulf the city as the cold front pushed through the area. The 65 mph winds downed trees and power lines, which caused traffic to slow. The NWS predicts a slight possibility of light snow in the area but no real accumulation is expected.

Dec. 10 – A National Weather Service survey team finds evidence for possible tornado damage in North Texas, especially Grayson County. Though much of the damage occurred from severe winds, the survey reported uprooted trees, toppled tractor trailers and blown-out car windows. Meteorologist Jessica Shultz estimates the possible tornadoes as EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds between 86-110 mph.

Other areas of North Texas experienced gusty winds as the front pushed through. As many as 1,200 Dallas customers lost power during the severe weather event. Forecasts point to light sleet or snow in the next day.

Dec. 15 – Grayson county has been declared a disaster area by the Governor due to two tornadoes that hit on Dec. 8, which damaged an estimated 150 homes. County officials expect more federal relief to come in the next week.

Dec. 21 – The federal government will provide aid to Grayson, Collin, Cooke, Denton, and Fannin counties after two tornadoes hit the area earlier in the month. The application deadline for damage is Feb. 6.

Space Shuttle

Dec. 8 – Messy weather in Texas caused the Space Shuttle Endeavor to delay its arrival by ferry in Florida until Dec. 9.

Dec. 11 – More messy weather causes delays for the Space Shuttle Endeavor during its stop in Fort Worth at the Naval Air Station.

Bird Species

Dec. 15 – The Christmas Bird Count saw a near unofficial record of 250 species of birds during their annual excursion. Waterfowl have been concentrated this year due to fewer ponds and dry conditions. Songbirds have also suffered due to little seed production and other forage.

Hurricane Impacts

Dec. 4 -- The Southeast Texas Regional Airport in Jefferson County plans to reopen in May 2009 after countering damages from Hurricane Rita in 2005. Hurricane Ike and Gustav hindered the progress only slightly, when operations were shut down for a couple of weeks.

Dec. 5 – The Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston hopes to continue after struggling with conditions brought upon the city by Hurricane Ike. Even though most businesses experienced some form of flood damage, city officials hope that the festival will bring people together to unify the city and progress in rebuilding.

Dec. 14 – The 2008 Lone Star Motorcycle Rally took place in Galveston after being delayed for more than a month. Large crowds attended the rally especially on Saturday, when pleasant weather swept the city, creating a welcome scene for many Galveston residents.

Pest Control

Dec. 21 – Waco has seen an above average appearance of mice and rat populations, especially in the last few months. Dry weather during the year and recent cold weather have caused the rodents to look for warm dwelling places and food supplies. Pest control experts advise Waco residents to use preventative measures to control infestations.

Dallas Parade Attendance

Dec. 7 - The children's parade in downtown Dallas saw near record attendance caused mainly by cool temperatures and very clear skies, along with very little wind, which aided the balloon handlers in the parade.

Extreme Makeover visits Keller

Dec. 8 – Due to flooding in 2007 which destroyed their home, the Augustin family of Keller will be visited by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to rebuild their home.test

Geosciences TAMU Logo

Aggies can change the world. Geoscientists lead the way.