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January ended with above average rainfall, thanks in large part to a strong system that passed through the state between January 10th-11th, dropping rain equivalent to a full month’s accumulation over a single weekend. Many regions saw their short- term deficits erased entirely. For many regions, this included reservoir recharge, a particularly important issue as statewide water supply as a percent of conservation storage is at its lowest point since 1990; statewide water supply increased by almost 4 percent as a result of the rainfall. However, many regions are still suffering from low water supply, notably West Texas. The Lower Colorado River Authority enacted emergency conservation plans in January, and various levels of government are attempting to tackle the problem. Potential solutions include implementation of a 100-year plan in Lubbock estimated to cost anywhere between $4.1 and $10 billion and a $2 billion appropriation plan introduced in the state legislature.

Impacts to farmers and ranchers were mixed despite the large accumulations. Many AgriLife Extension agents expect that the January rainfall, while not ensuring a successful harvest, did prevent winter wheat from being lost entirely, with some believing is saved over a million dollars. Cotton farmers are less fortunate, with initial yield estimates dropping by 500,000 due to the persistently dry conditions across most of the state. While snow cover in the western parts of the state have farmers cautiously optimistic, the long-term conditions are so poor that it’s not believed melt water will be enough to replenish soil moisture, and 70% deficit in high elevation snowpack upstream of El Paso has similar fears arising there. With soil moisture conditions so poor, ranchers are still having trouble keeping their herds fed, causing the Cargill Meatpacking Plant in Plainview to lay off 2000 workers. Longer-term ecological damage has also been seen in recent months, culminating in the Wildlife Department falling short $4.6 million last year.

Flooding from the excessive rainfall earlier in the month presented problems in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Snook. Intermittent snowfall caused a fair amount of vehicular damage as well, generally from accidents caused by snow, sleet, and freezing rain or potholes and roadway damage caused by freezing temperatures.
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