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Burn Bans

County-wide burn bans through March 1


Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, February 5, 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor, February 26, 2013

Texas headed for another record drought - The Texas state climatologist warned lawmakers in Austin that the current Texas drought could rival the one that occurred during the 1950’s if rainfall remains below normal. With over 90 percent of the state in abnormally dry conditions and 22 percent in extreme or exceptional drought and seasonal statewide reservoir water levels at their lowest point since 1990, lawmakers are considering tapping the state’s rainy day fund to pay for new pipelines, reservoirs, and other water conservation projects. Funding proposals for the State Water Plan ranged in size from $1-2 billion, and it appeared that the Legislature would approve funding for the plan.
San Antonio Express-News, Matt Tresaugue, February 6, 2013

Farmers optimistic through drought – Amarillo-area farmers are having trouble dealing with the ongoing drought, but remain optimistic in spite of its effect on crop yields. Corn may be the hardest-hit, and its price affects grocery prices as well as the cost of feeding cattle. One reason the drought continues may be the lack of the expected El Nino. Predicted to set in over the winter, for the first time ever, it didn’t pan out, thus allowing the dry heat to continue for the foreseeable future.
KAMR FOX 14, Amarillo, TX, Adam Snider, February 28, 2013


Wildfires in Titus County after more than 100-acre fire near Como – Titus and Hopkins county fire departments stayed busy fighting wildfires around Como and Titus County. The Como fire was a controlled burn that got out of control, while the Titus county fire is contained.
KYTX 19 Tyler, TX, no author listed, February 17, 2013

Final Day for Aggie Students in 'Replant' of Bastrop State Park – Hundreds of Aggies have been busy in Bastrop State Park the past two weekends, replanting new trees in areas devastated by an enormous wildfire 18 months ago. Aggies hope to plant 30,000 new seedlings to help restore the park.
KBTX 3 Bryan-College Station, TX, Alex Lotz, February 25, 2013

Water Supply

Water needs worsen as drought continues - Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Becky Motal spoke with KXAN about the drought and its effects on the Lower Colorado River water supply. The drought in 2011 led to the lowest inflows into Lakes Travis and Buchanan on record, and the LCRA has had to ask TCEQ to allow it to deviate from its water management plan as a result. Motal mentioned that if more rain doesn’t fall by March 1 of this year, they will have to start denying water to agricultural customers. The LCRA also plans to find 100,000 acre-feet of new water supplies, mostly in the form of reservoirs.
KXAN 36 Austin, David Yeomans/Jon Bumgardner, February 3, 2013

ETX organization continues to 'Replenish' world's water supply - Brian Lamb’s organization “Replenish” is selling water bottles to help provide clean water for those in need. "Replenish" donates one water purification tablet for every bottle of water and one life straw for every case of water sold. The organization also sells clothing and sends some of the proceeds to partners.
KLTV-7, Tyler, TX, Lauren Callahan, February 4, 2013

Drought Watch: Recycled Waste Water – Wichita Falls may soon have to implement Stage 3 Drought Emergency water restrictions due to its dwindling water supply. Against this backdrop, the City Council is looking for alternative water sources, including recycled wastewater. The current plan is to pump treated wastewater from the River Road treatment plant back into the Cypress treatment plant. There the recycled water will be put through reverse osmosis and the same treatment as water from Lakes Kickapoo and Arrowhead. The City Council is beginning to allocate money to fund the planning stages, so it will be roughly a year before the actual program gets underway.
KAUZ Newschannel 6 Wichita Falls, TX, Jack Lamson, February 5, 2013

40-gallon challenge to help drought efforts - The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Potter county is challenging area residents to save 40 gallons of water a day. This is in addition to existing city water use restrictions, which typically aren’t enough to maintain existing water supplies.
KFDA-TV, Amarillo, TX, no author listed, February 11, 2013

Wells to assist Quanah with their water supply – With the water supply for the town of Quanah running low, the Greenbelt Water Authority is looking for alternative sources of water for the area. The GWA has contracted with the City of Clarendon to drill five new water wells whose output will be merged with that of Lake Greenbelt before moving into the main water lines. While it’s unclear just how much water Quanah and surrounding communities will get from the wells, they should be online by the summer of 2013.
KFDX Wichita Falls, TX, David Gonzalez, February 11, 2013

Drought plan for Edwards Aquifer is OK'd – A 414-page plan for managing the Edwards Aquifer during a 1950’s-level drought was approved Thursday. Built by 40 stakeholders, paid for by aquifer users, and approved by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the plan uses several techniques to help conserve aquifer water. These include pumping cuts, paying farmers not to irrigate, and San Antonio getting more of its water from underground storage in South Bexar County. Costing $16-18 million a year, the plan is the final step in a 1993 court order to deal with aquifer management in a way that protects eight species that depend on the aquifer’s main springs.
San Antonio Express-News, Colin McDonald, February 15, 2013

Agricultural Impacts

Clint farmer: drought and groundwater could kill pecan crop - Allen Surratt’s pecan farm in Clint has fallen on hard times due to the ongoing drought. It’s gotten so bad that he’s having to pump groundwater from wells on his property, which he hasn’t had to do in over 60 years (during the 1950s drought). The problem is, his groundwater has a lot of clay in it, which makes the water salty, which can damage or destroy his crops, so he’s worried about the long-term health of his pecan trees. He doesn’t have much choice but to do so, since the Rio Grande River and local reservoirs are all running low.
KFOX 14 El Paso, Joshua Zuber, February 1, 2013

Drought affects farmer’s livelihood - Jimmy Morath, the owner of Morath Orchard, has been growing fruits and vegetables for 30 years, but the current drought is making it very difficult to keep going. He’s spent a significant amount of money to install an underground irrigation system, but even that still isn’t enough to keep all his crops watered. In the summer of 2012, he had to plant black eyed peas and green beans four times because his crops kept dying. The drought is also worsening his soil quality by drying it out, which makes the sandy soil more likely to be blown away by wind, possibly killing other crops on his fields. Overall, the drought has made the growing process a lot harder and more costly.
NewsChannel6, Wichita Falls, TX, Tanya De Jesus, February 11, 2013

Feedlots, meatpackers closing with fewer US cows – Feedlots and meatpacking facilities across the country are being closed, idled, or consolidated due to an increasing shortage of cattle caused by the ongoing drought. Ranchers are thinning out their herds while preserving the ability to rebuild them during better times, while meatpackers like Cargill are closing, idling, or consolidating their operations, while retaining the unused facilities in case the situation turns around later. Ultimately, this will be reflected in higher meat prices at grocery stores and restaurants.
KFDA-TV Amarillo, TX, Roxana Hegeman, February 24, 2013

Drought has Texas farmers wary of cashing in on corn – The ongoing drought is bringing an expected record haul of corn up short. When USDA economists predicted the largest Midwest corn planting in 80 years, many Texas farmers also positioned themselves to get in on the high corn prices due to the low corn supplies worldwide. However, the drought has prevented them from making good on the prediction, as soil moisture is low enough to keep corn crops from doing well enough to plant. So some farmers are taking a wait-and-see approach.
The Houston Chronicle, Lynn Brezosky, February 25, 2013

WINDMILL COUNTRY: Drought troubles reflected in price of food – The ongoing drought has affected the price of various foods over the past year. Food prices already expected to rapidly rise have outpaced the food-at-home index, including beef, pork, poultry, other meats, eggs, and dairy. Like cattle, hog liquidation due to the drought has resulted in lower prices, though this is expected to rise in 2013 due to low hog inventory and higher feed costs. The closure of Cargill’s beef-packing plant in Plainview due to drought-caused cattle losses will leave 2,000 workers out of a job, though Cargill hopes to reopen the plant when cattle numbers increase once again.
The San Angelo Standard-Times, Jerry Lackey, February 27, 2013

Inclement Weather

Cold/ Winter Weather

Snow brings much-needed moisture - Plainview received about 3 inches of snowfall early Tuesday morning, causing area schools to delay their opening times and the start times of two high school basketball games were moved up by at least an hour Tuesday night.
Plainview Daily Herald, Doug McDonough, February 12, 2013

Snow cleanup begins after record-setting storm – Crews have been working around the clock in shifts since Sunday to move snow off of main roads and away from medical center areas in Amarillo. Roads should be passable again by Wednesday.
KVII 7 Amarillo, TX, Andrea Flores, February 26, 2013

Snow removal will create delays on I-40 and I-27 this afternoon – TxDOT will begin an operation to move snow from the center medians of sections of I-40 and I-27 this afternoon in an attempt to prevent melting snow from refreezing on the roadways overnight. Drivers will be slowed to 20-30 mph and not allowed to pass while the operation is ongoing.
Amarillo Globe-News, Joe Richardson, February 28, 2013


Heavy downpours swell area lakes; Kilgore Creek overflows - Heavy rains that swept across northeast Texas Sunday caused minor flooding due to swollen creeks and streams, most notably Bighead Creek near Kilgore, where Meadowbrook Golf Course and City Park were flooded out. Longview received about 2.5 inches of rain, with the Bighead Creek area possibly receiving more than that, and the golf course and park lay on a flood plain, as well. NWS meteorologist Chris Nuttall indicated this rain would help the area in the short term, but more would be needed to help alleviate the ongoing drought.
The Longview News-Journal, Peggy Jones, February 12, 2013

Rain alters Jefferson County ranch – Rainfall in Jefferson County is causing trouble for ranchers who must deal with large puddles of mud spread across their pastures. Since losing cattle due to being stuck in the mud means losing a lot of money per head, ranchers use techniques such as rotating herds between pastures, which helps them deal with rainfall-caused problems.
KBTV Beaumont, TX, Justin Hinton, February 21, 2013

Severe Weather

Storms bring hail, strong winds, knock out power - Up to 17,000 homes and businesses lost power in the DFW area early Sunday morning due to severe weather, including golf-ball-sized hail and at least one reported 60 mph wind gust. Slick roads led to several car wrecks, though no injuries were reported.
KDFW/FOX 4, Dallas-Ft Worth, no author listed, February 10, 2013

A mighty wind - A storm system moved through the town of Freer early Monday morning, knocking out power and damaging or destroying numerous buildings and structures. Damage estimates ranged from $150,000 to $200,000 just within the town, and one location outside the town received $25,000 of damage to animal pens. The NWS estimates hail that fell in the area ranged from quarter to golf-ball-sized, and fell to a depth of two to three inches. The NWS is still investigating to see if a tornado contributed to the damage.
Alice Echo-News Journal, Mauricio Cuellar Jr., February 11, 2013

Lightning destroys 100-year-old church - Lightning has been blamed for a fire that burned down the Main Street Presbyterian Church in Honey Grove, Fannin County. The building dated to 1901. The congregation is already working on plans to rebuild the church.
KXAS-TV Dallas/Ft Worth, Greg Janda, February 11, 2013

Storms damage local homes, displace families - Storms that moved through the Grayson county area damaged or destroyed several houses in Luella, though whether by strong straight-line winds or a tornado is unclear. The Red Cross offered the displaced families assistance, and the Grayson county utility company quickly repaired power outages due to the storms.
The Herald Democrat, Sherman, TX, Jerrie Whiteley, February 11, 2013

Severe weather impacts travel across the country – As winter storms rolled through the Plains states, flights to and from those areas via Houston’s Bush and Hobby Airports have already been seeing cancellations due to the severe/winter weather. Affected airlines have begun offering to change traveler’s flight schedules for free.
KPRC Local 2 Houston, TX, no author listed, February 21, 2013

Severe weather causes damage in Wells – Just after noon Thursday, severe weather struck the town of Wells, damaging houses and felling trees. The NWS has not yet confirmed if a tornado occurred, though they are investigating.
KETK 56 Tyler, TX, Nicole Underwood, February 21, 2013

Other Climate Impacts

Animals/Aquatic Life

Nature Report: Wildlife suffering with drought – With ribs showing on whitetail deer and javelina trying to eat cacti, the Texas drought is also making wild animals suffer. Quail and turkey production is falling, bobcat populations are decreasing, and endangered species such as ocelots are in even more peril as a result. The loss of even one member of an endangered species due to drought could be devastating to the remainder of the species.
KGBT 4 Rio Grande Valley, Richard Moore, February 27, 2013


Allergies and asthma hit hard by dust storms – High winds in the El Paso area have been kicking up dust, pollen – and allergy problems. With wind gusts expected to reach 65 mph, dust and pollen can get in between door frames, into air conditioning systems, and other parts of residents’ homes, so preparation will be key.
KFOX 14 El Paso, TX, Geoff Tyler, Rebecca Adame, Dr. Andres Enriquez, February 19, 2013


As drought concerns grow, North Texans are turning to rainwater collection - With the drought showing no signs of going away, more people in North Texas are learning how to collect rainwater, which has a number of benefits beyond just having the water available. The Texas AgriLife Extension Service has been holding classes that teach people how to conserve rainwater, and also helps them obtain containers such as barrels and terra cotta urns to collect it. While neighborhood restrictions may vary, by state law they cannot forbid homeowners from using rainwater collection containers.
The Dallas Morning News, Karel Holloway, February 6, 2013

Shifting building foundations resulting from drought in Abilene, Big Country – Homes and other buildings in the Abilene area are already shifting on their foundations as a result of the prolonged drought in the region. The clay soil of the area expands or contracts depending on the local soil moisture, and the extended drought has been causing the soil to contract to a point where it can’t re-expand to where it was when it rains.
KTXS Abilene, Chelsea Humphrey, February 19, 2013


TCEQ approves LCRA plan for emergency drought relief – The TCEQ on Wednesday approved the Lower Colorado River Authority’s plan to provide emergency drought relief for the second year in a row. Ron Gertson, representing rice farmers, had been urging LCRA not to cut off water to rice farmers again, but the drought forced the TCEQ’s hand. Using a threshold based on the combined water levels of Lakes Buchanan and Travis, LCRA will decide March 1 whether or not to cut off water supplies to farmers.
The Victoria Advocate, no author listed, February 14, 2013

Water takes center stage in Texas Legislature – As Texas water supplies run lower, the Texas Legislature is doing all it can to get people to conserve water. For farmers, that means cutting-edge irrigation techniques that only use as much water as needed. For urban residents, that means cutting down on tap usage and following lawn watering restrictions. Other possible ways include xeriscaping, drip irrigation, and rainwater harvesting.
Alice Echo-News Journal, Claudia Garcia, February 22, 2013

Roads/Traffic/ Travel

NWS: dust, winds may give way to precipitation by Monday night - High winds and blowing dust made travel conditions unpleasant Saturday evening. NWS Amarillo recorded gusts of 48 mph in Amarillo, and gusts near 60 mph around Deaf Smith County. The blowing dust resulted in half-mile visibility in places around the Panhandle, but no major property damage was reported.
Amarillo Globe-News, Russell Anglin, February 9, 2013

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