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The summer ridge pattern has set in over Texas, which has resulted in high temperatures and low precipitation accumulations for much of the state. Thunderstorm activity in East Texas and along Upper Coast has helped mitigate effects locally, but, on the whole, much of the state has suffered. At the beginning of July, the Drought Monitor had most of Texas classified in at least moderate drought (D1), with isolated regions degrading into severe and extreme drought (D2 and D3) following the drying conditions at the end of June. Flow off the Gulf of Mexico brought with it substantial rainfall for the southeast portions of the state, effectively eliminating drought conditions by the middle of the month. However, most storm activity had tapered off by the end of the month, with only one substantial rain event occurring in west Texas, which helped stave off further degradations. By the end of July, exceptional drought (D4) classification had been re-introduced to the Panhandle and the low rolling plains while east and southeast Texas had remained free of drought conditions. Currently, north central Texas faces triple-digit heat, which is expected to amplify the already dry conditions there. The heat has also begun to claim lives, as a 10-year-old and a 3-year- old died from heat exhaustion in separate incidents.

Dry conditions have begun to take their toll on the livelihood of many sectors of Texas population and economy. Fires, driven by lightning and dry grasses, burned near Byers in Clay County and in McFadden Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson County; while the former was stopped before any significant damage was caused, the wildlife refuge saw at least 150 acres burned. Further, a fire reported at Bluff Creek has burned over 2700 acres, though no monetary damage report has been issued. Elsewhere, country-wide drought issues are having an effect on ranchers, whose livestock numbers have dropped by 2% in the Panhandle due to elevated corn prices and less grazing acreage. Farmers’ losses have been mitigated somewhat by intermittent rainy conditions. Legislation aimed at further mitigating these effects by reducing the processing time for emergency declaration, reducing the emergency loan interest rate by 1.25 percent, and granting subsidies to various crop farmers. The Texas State Water Plan has plans written in it to puue various projects, totaling $53 billion, to develop projects to bring water to various parts of the state that are seeing increased demand and competition for water from all sectors.

Storms occurring the middle of the month also caused damage to southeastern Texas. Flooding from Houston to Austin had driven hundreds of people from their homes and causing damage to cars, homes, and landscaping, among other property. In north Texas, lightning struck an oil tanker carrying three tanks of oil, two of which exploded in the resulting fire. The third, itself carrying 280 barrels of crude oil, was saved before the fire caused it too to suffer irreparable loss. Meanwhile in human loss, two people were killed by lightning at a soccer game after a tree was struck by lightning.
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