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Drought/Burn Bans/Fire Hazards

County-wide burn bans through July 1

Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, June 2, 2009
U.S. Drought Monitor, June 30, 2009

June 3 – As drought conditions persist through much of Texas, Lufkin will host a seminar on proper water catchment procedures, hosted by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, to inform residents on how to conserve both money and water.

Early June – Some burn bans around Texas have been lifted, including those at Palo Duro Canyon, after more than a year, and Ector County near the Panhandle.

Mid June- As the month progressed, several burn bans were enacted throughout the state, including Madison and Lee Counties, Hardin County, Kendall County, Brazoria County, Llano County, Victoria County, and Travis County.

June 16 – North Texans are doing their part in helping wildfire victims whose homes were destroyed in early spring wildfires. An organization, called the North Texas Cattlemen's Relief Fund, is allowing those farmers whose crops and land were burned to sign up for help with costs of new equipment, feed, etc.

A controlled burn in Orange County that was left unattended caused a small fire that was handled by the Texas Forest Service. With exceptionally dry conditions, all Texans are encouraged to remain with any controlled fire, even in counties without formal burn bans.

June 17 – Montgomery County residents are in the midst of extraordinarily dry weather Several weeks of very high temperatures and relentless winds have quickly dried fields and created hazardous burning conditions. Three burn injuries have been reported, including burns from ruptured paint cans and gasoline. Some experienced farmers are worried that decreasing Conservation Reserve Program funds, coupled with intense drought, could lead to another dust bowl scenario. Higher standards have left some farmers plowing their CRP acreage, Texas winds could cause powerful erosion of the previously grass-anchored soil.

Because of persistent winds, above average temperatures, low humidity, and little rain, plant experts suggest looking in your garden for stressed plants and begin some watering schedule. Move all potted plants to shaded regions. If possible, install a buried watering system that will reduce water usage and maximize water intake.

June 19 – Dry grass, low stock tanks, and parched crops have become a fixture throughout much of Texas, and forecasts generally point to more warmth and little rain. Some farmers are concerned that the lack of moisture in May and June will wreak havoc on their cropland, with some areas receiving less than a quarter of their normal precipitation.

June 24 – Tyler residents have increased their calls to local landscaping agencies, as triple-digit temperatures and no rainfall have started to take their toll on home gardens and lawns. For those with fish ponds, this dry weather can cause oxygen depletion and eventually kill those fish. Hay has also been hit by the dry weather, and could greatly drop winter supplies.

June 29 – Locally grown produce, especially corn, watermelons, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, is expected to cost more due to shortages caused by the drought, according to horticulturists.

Water Supply

June 1 – Lost Creek Reservoir, a lake near Jacksboro in Northeast Texas , is more than 5 feet below normal; in fact, a truck submerged in the lake for years has surfaced due to low lake levels and the continuing Texas drought. Management officials are concerned about future droughts and the availability of water for a booming Texas population.

June 15 – Lake levels around Texas, especially in Central and South Texas, could drop to levels not seen since the early 1980s. Though some rain has fallen in Central Texas, totals have not been sufficient to run water into area lakes. Austin residents are readily complying with water restrictions.

Mid June – Because of the drought and several days of heat still ahead, many areas are mandating residents to conserve water, including Pearland, Conroe, Galveston, Schertz, and Kerrville.

June 16 – Some water mains have broken due to extreme heat in Corpus Christi. Officials expect more breaks to come, as eight have broken already.

June 18 – Pool owners are encouraged to purchase covers for their pools to prevent rapid evaporative losses and save both water and money.

June 19 – Hundreds of Montgomery County residents have had practically no water in their homes. They have been going to hotels and other businesses to shower and get their water for more than two weeks. However, water management crews are working tirelessly to install new, larger pumps to bring water back to the city.

June 28 – Dow Chemical will release water from the Brazos River basin to assist a Texas Operations facility, and will secondarily give local residents more water to use as river fills two reservoirs.

Agricultural Impacts


Throughout June – Some areas have allowed aerial fireworks to be sold due to enough rainfall and lack of burn bans, including Hutchinson, Potter, and Randall Counties, Lubbock County, El Paso County, and Hunt County.

However, some drier areas have restricted the sale of certain "missiles with fins" and "skyrockets with sticks" fireworks that tend to land far from their deployment. Some of these areas include Caldwell County, Nueces County, Guadalupe County, and Bexar County. Coryell County has enacted a voluntary restriction and all counties allowing fireworks sales urge customers to be extremely cautious when using them.

Such declarations must be made by June 15 and are based on how dry the area has been and is forecast to be. In 2006, more than 32,000 fires were reportedly caused by fireworks as well as 10,000 emergency room visits. Most vendors are looking to have a more productive year than in years past, with recent floods and droughts limiting the fireworks industry in Texas.

June 4 – Giant salvinia, a nuisance plant, has taken over large sections of Caddo lake and many other Texas lakes. Flooding rains have pushed the plant into backwaters, where it is somewhat protected and is able to grow quickly.

June 9 – Fish producers warn farmers not to overstock their tanks with fish, because hot temperatures and little rainfall will deplete the oxygen and cause the tank to be unlivable.

June 12 – Runners are encouraged to stay indoors when lightning is in the area; a Houston man was killed after being struck by lightning on Crystal Beach. Another jogger was killed earlier in the year after being struck by lightning on a Texas beach.

June 14 – The 72nd Oil Bowl in Wichita Falls was cancelled, for the first time in history, due to a thunderstorm in the area.

June 20 - Texas lake levels are falling rapidly and boat ramps previously accessible have become unusable. This would create much more traffic on open ramps during the Fourth of July weekend.

June 26 – Those enjoying a picnic should be careful when storing their food. Very warm temperatures increase bacteria production which may lead to food poisoning. Health experts recommend thoroughly washing hands and quickly chilling any leftover foods.


June 4 – Because of very little rainfall, North-Central Texas cotton farmers are in a planting race to seed their cropland before insurance deadlines arrive. Insured fields will bring farmers a little peace of mind as drought continues throughout much of Texas.

Isolated showers in West Central Texas have created a good time for cotton farmers to plow and plant seed. More than an inch of rain fell in some areas, which gave the soil enough moisture to plant the cotton seed.

June 9 – Though peach crops in the Hill Country have been decimated by late freezes, East Texas peach growers report a slightly smaller but still hearty crop this year.

Parker County, a well-known peach growing area, has also been affected by the late freeze, with peach farmers reporting about 25% of their normal crop.

South Texas farmers are very concerned about the lack of rainfall since the beginning of the year. Failed acreage totals are similar to those from 2006, when losses totaled around $34 million. In 2006, about three quarters of the cotton crop was destroyed, while nearly 90% of the corn crop was destroyed.

June 14 – In South Texas, some areas have not seen a significant rainfall since April. Thus, non-irrigated corn crops are very poor: some stalks have not produced at all, and those that did have produced small ears of corn.

June 16 – Wheat farmers in the Panhandle are beginning to harvest their crops. Recent rainfall has bolstered the wheat crop, and, despite a rough winter, farmers expect a decent crop. Yet, some Rolling Plains farmers are reporting about a fourth of their usual crop. Harvesters, instead of seeing last year's average of 30 bushels per acre, have seen 30 bushels per acre only a couple of times. Even irrigated wheat has taken a hit from the freezes; agronomists are hard-pressed to find wheat crops that can be classified as "good."

June 23 – With most cotton planted, farmers wait for any rainfall that may arrive. However, with some areas of Texas receiving no rainfall for the entire month, non-irrigated cropland farmers have a long planting season ahead of them.

Central Texas hay farmers are producing about a third of their normal crop due to lack of rainfall. Some farmers, instead of selling surplus hay, have been purchasing hay for their cattle, because so little grass is available on their land.

June 25 – Farmers and ranchers across Texas are looking for ways to maximize their crop yield and beat the drought, including rain catchment and soil tests. However, Central Texas farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about the extreme heat and the possible effects on their crops.

June 29 – To beat the drought, some farmers are turning to more drought-resistant crops such as sorghum. If forecasts call for lot of rain, corn is more beneficial to a farmer; however, if little rain falls, sorghum is the better option.

Other Climate Impacts

Severe Storms/Inclement Weather

June 2 – A golf course greens keeper was swept off a spillway when crossing in his truck. A water rescue team was able to save the man from the flood waters.

June 4 – A powerful storm the North Texas town of Roby knocked out windows in 80% of the homes there and dropped baseball-sized hail throughout the town, as well as two inches of rainfall. Extremely high winds pushed vehicles off roads; most residents were very frightened as hail and high winds shredded trees and parts of their homes. An F0 tornado in Seabrook has been confirmed by the NWS that damaged some cars and trees.

June 9 – Military trainees in Texas are experiencing extreme heat similar to that found overseas in Iraq. Though ideal training conditions, extreme temperatures can easily lead to heat stroke.

June 12 – Central Texans and residents of the Dallas/Fort Worth area are looking to repair and bring power back to their homes after a strong storm knocked out power for tens of thousands of residents. A Tyler couple was electrocuted after running into downed power lines. Two tornadoes were reported in Williamson County and lightning sparked several house fires in the region. In Ellis County, more than half a million were left without power due to strong storms, one of the most widespread outages the area has ever seen.

June 13 – Dallas sewer mains have reported several sewage overflows from the heavy rains in recent storms. This has created some unpleasant problems for some residents, though officials assert that the waste is diluted enough to not cause any problems.

June 16 – A non-profit organization, called Family Eldercare, is providing elderly adults, especially those with disabilities, with fans and finances to fix broken air conditions to combat the excessive heat.

June 19 – Coaches and trainers are urged to keep athletes well-hydrated during their summer workouts as record heat continues in the state.

Pet owners should also use common sense in the hot weather; never leave dogs in the car in the heat, even with windows cracked.

June 23 – Two illegal immigrants have died while attempting to cross the border into Texas. Twenty people have died this year, about half of the average border-crossing fatalities.

June 26 – The heat wave in Texas is blamed for at least 4 deaths as record temperatures continue throughout the state. Two Dallas parents were arrested for leaving a six-month old child in a car while shopping, though the child was taken from the car with moderate heat stress.

Hurricane Season

June 1 – Corpus Christi residents are more on edge this year after Dolly and Ike hit Texas last season. Hurricane Celia was the last major hurricane to hit Corpus Christi, back in 1970. Residents fear that their time is coming soon; therefore, supply stores are seeing more hurricane preparedness activity than usual for the beginning of the season.

The Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) assisted other Louisiana and Texas-based energy companies in returning power to more than 80,000 customers hit by Gustav and Ike last year and replacing nearly 240 utility poles. These electricity providers prepare year-round for power outages caused by inclement weather, especially hurricanes.

Up to 55% of Houstonians have no hurricane disaster plan. Officials comment that if Ike would have moved a few miles west of its actual landfall, the Houston area could have received much more damage and loss of life. Officials recommend that residents buy at least 3 days worth of supplies in case of a hurricane emergency. Hurricane forecasters predict 4-7 hurricanes, of which 1-3 hurricanes are likely to be at least Category 3.

East Texans are more aware of hurricanes than last year, since the effects of recent hurricanes have reached far inland areas, like Nacogdoches. The Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center is training Texas military personnel on disaster assessment and emergency procedures. A local Galveston High School film class has produced a film showing Ike's devastation, which can be found here:

The Texas Senate unanimously passed a windstorm bill, which allows residents along the Texas coast to purchase affordable hurricane insurance known as windstorm insurance. If a costly hurricane hits Texas, with damage of at least $600 million, the insurance premiums would rise 2.8%.

June 2 – Texas A&M Corpus Christi has constructed 30 platforms on the Texas Coast that will be used to record various features of hurricanes as they make landfall, including storm surge and wind speed, which can then be used in forecasting the hurricane.

June 7 – Farmers near the Texas Coast are still recovering from damages caused by Hurricane Ike. Volunteers have replaced 300 miles of fences and are still trying to relocate cattle that roamed to nearby ranches. Water sources for cattle have become salty from storm surge. Agricultural losses are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, though this is only a portion of the $20 billion in total damages from Ike.

June 8 – Proper hurricane precautions can save much time, effort, and money. Remove decaying or leaning trees, stake new trees, cut branches near the roof, store chemicals and oil higher than any possible flood waters, and, if a hurricane is approaching, secure any loose items in the yard, including plants, toys, grills, and furniture.

June 22 – Governor Perry has signed a bill that gives $150 million to the University of Texas Medical Branch as a natural disaster relief fund from damages caused by Hurricane Ike. The federal government is also giving Texas $1.7 billion in disaster relief.

Air Quality

June 1 – Excessive heat and poor air from Juarez has made it difficult for El Paso to remain within federal air regulations. Thus, both health and economic growth could be affected by high levels of ozone, since companies look for cleaner cities to relocate.

June 5 – Central Texas received its second ozone watch as a weak cold front will bring in ozone, and high temperatures, little wind, and cloud-free skies will cause air conditions to rapidly deteriorate.

Climate Change

June 7 – Continuing research from Texas A&M has predicted that Texas will become hotter, water supplies will be stressed, and droughts may become longer and more intense. In Galveston, climate experts expect nearly $12 billion in losses and nearly 100,000 homes unlivable as sea level rises over the next century, nearly 80% of the county's homes. Corpus Christi residents should experience similar effects as well.


Early to mid June– Large amounts of rainfall in North Texas has caused snakes to stir more than usual. In Central Texas, rising temperatures and persistent drought has drawn out snakes from their dens, leading to an increase in snakebite victims. A coral snake and rattlesnake are responsible for two snakebites in La Vernia, which has had twice the number of snakebite calls than average. In Travis County, medical staff have treated 11 snakebites, and a snake farm worker says that he has never seen so many snakes around residential areas, as they search for water sources.

June 3 – Some Texas residents with plentiful rainfall have begun to encounter mosquitoes. In Galveston County, with Ike-damaged mosquito control systems, swarms of mosquitoes have wreaked havoc on the area and residents have sent in hundreds of calls to management officials. Jefferson County officials are worried about the county budget as sprayers plan to hit three times the normal acreage, from the surge of mosquitoes after Hurricane Ike.

June 7 – Hurricane Ike has caused the shrimp population in the Gulf of Mexico to increase. Debris washed out to see decays and releases nutrients necessary for phytoplankton production, which shrimp feed on.

June 15 – Because of the drought, some Corpus Christi lakes have become oxygen-depleted. Consequently, dead fish have washed up on the shores of local lakes, leaving an unpleasant odor for residents to bear.

June 17- From recent rainfall, a 10 foot alligator roamed the streets of a Fort Worth neighborhood but unfortunately was injured when struck by a car and was euthanized.

June 23 – Early June rainfall meant the arrival of bee swarms in Taylor County. Drought generally causes bee populations to dwindle. Still, one family in the Dallas/Fort Worth area found thousands of bees near their front door.


June 8 – At least three earthquakes have been reported in North Texas in the past week, ranging in magnitudes of 2.3-2.8.

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