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The month of January was characterized by much colder than normal temperatures across the state of Texas. Despite the winter weather, the month was also considerably drier than normal with drought status reclaiming some territory into East Texas, and worsening in West Texas. Many lakes across the state are at dangerous levels, including the Highland Lakes, which are at a combined 38% capacity, which is raising concerns that water prices across the Lower Colorado River Authority region could increase by 20% next year. The low water supply levels became evident when the State Comptroller’s Office released a statement on January 17 reporting that 23,000 Texans are at risk to losing water service within 45 days and another 47,000 running that risk at 90 days. The USDA placed 180 counties within the state under a Natural Disaster Declaration, giving farmers and ranchers the option to apply for low interest rate federal loans to make up for losses. The Panhandle from 2010-2013 has surpassed the 1954-1956 time period as the record driest three year period on record. Wichita Falls, still under Stage 4 water restrictions, is considering a cloud seeding project that could cost more than $50,000 per month.

Two winter weather events took place this month, hitting the southern part of the state with a mixture of icy precipitation. A mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and snow began falling from Waco south towards Houston late on the 23rd, causing 150 flight cancellations at Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby airports and more than 250 wrecks in Austin. The second event occurred on the 28 th bringing light freezing rain to Houston and a few flurries to the north, bring less ice accumulation but still more cold temperatures.

The cold temperatures that came along with the ice storms are having their own share of problems. In the Panhandle, the cold combined with the lack of short-term rain has many winter wheat growers fearful that a large-scale crop die-off is imminent. Power consumption across the state is increasing rapidly, with a record of 57,277 megawatts of power were used across the state on the sixth and Upshur Electric purchasing more than 10,000 more KW hours than last year.
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