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Burn Bans

County-wide burn bans through April 1


Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

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

Texas Panhandle snow relieves drought, no end yet – Drought conditions in the Texas Panhandle have persisted for two years now, so even the 19 inches of snow brought by the latest winter storm will only put a dent in the region’s drought status. State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said the improvement would only be short-term unless this coming spring features plenty of rain. Without it, the negative impacts on the state’s water supplies, farms, and livestock will continue to worsen.
The Baytown Sun, AP, March 3, 2013

Ranchers could delay some taxes due to drought – Some ranchers could be eligible to delay paying their taxes on animals sold due to drought. They must use the cash method of accounting: show they would not have sold except due to drought, and the drought must have resulted in the area being eligible for federal assistance. If they meet these qualifications, they can avoid or delay paying some taxes on gains from the animals sold.
KXII Sherman, TX, AP, March 12, 2013

San Marcos imposes Stage 2 drought restrictions – San Marcos entered Stage 2 drought restrictions on water use Monday, and will likely enter Stage 3 restrictions this summer. Last year, the same restrictions began in May, but they are beginning earlier this year due to falling water levels in area aquifers. Naturally, city officials are encouraging everyone to take steps to conserve water as much as possible while the restrictions are in place and the drought is ongoing.
YNN Austin/Round Rock/San Marcos, TX, Chris Cybulski, March 12, 2013

3-year dry spell spells trouble for SAWS; Stage 3 restrictions loom – San Antonio’s Water System reports the city of San Antonio may enter Stage 3 water restrictions soon due to the ongoing drought. The city has been under Stage 2 restrictions since April 2012. SAWS is recommending the use of drought-tolerant landscaping for homeowners this year.
KENS 5 San Antonio, TX, Karen Grace and Staff, March 12, 2013

WINDMILL COUNTRY: Lingering drought drains farmers in 'The Valley' – The ongoing Texas drought is increasingly affecting farmers and ranchers in the Rio Grande Valley. With the Edwards Aquifer below Uvalde only about 58 percent of capacity, Uvalde, San Antonio, and other cities and towns in the region are looking for ways to minimize crop and livestock damage while maximizing use of the available water. Guy Fipps of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service mentioned that the combination of the drought, low level of the Rio Grande River (which the Valley depends on for water), water losses from inefficient irrigation equipment, and a lack of water coming from Mexico (agreed upon by treaty) are all straining the abilities of farmers and ranchers in the Valley to produce crops and livestock.
San Angelo Standard-Times, Jerry Lackey, March 16, 2013

Drought idles business – The ongoing Texas drought has hit West Texas business hard over the past two years. Cargill Meat Solutions idled its Plainview plant in February, and the lack of grass has forced ranchers to buy hay and feed, and cut their herd sizes drastically. Federal data currently shows cattle herds at their lowest level since 1967. Though the closure will likely have a negative impact on the local economy, at least area farmers will have more water for their crops.
West Texas A&M Prairie News, Abigail Miller, March 19, 2013

Drought closes packing plant; 200 jobs lost – San Angelo Packing Co., Inc., has closed its doors, laying off 200 workers, due to lack of livestock supply as a result of the ongoing Texas drought. Before the drought began, the plant processed about 700 head of cattle per day, dropping to 350-400 head during the drought, mostly obtained from ranches within 100 miles of San Angelo. Recently, the plant had begun buying cattle from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to supplement its supply. Should the rains return, the plant could not reopen for another three years since that is about how long it would take for ranchers to replenish their herds enough to adequately supply the plant.
San Angelo Standard-Times, Justin Zamudio, March 27, 2013

Dry Winter Worsens Texas Drought Conditions – With spring approaching and summer following behind it, the below-normal rainfall observed in five out of the past six months spells more Texas drought trouble for this year. Aquifers, reservoirs, and lakes have not had the chance to recharge over the winter, so water supplies will likely be even more limited this year. According to state climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, water restrictions implemented this year may be harsher than those put in place in 2011. Current forecasts indicate continued warm, dry weather during the spring and summer.
KTVT-11 CBS DFW, AP, March 28, 2013

It’s official: Houston now back in a ‘severe’ drought – Nearly all of Harris County is back in “Severe” drought, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report. Eighty-seven percent of the state is also in at least “Moderate” drought, as well. Unfortunately, drought conditions in southeast Texas look set to persist or worsen in the near future, as upcoming storm systems are forecasted to stay to the north of the region, bringing little to no rain to the Houston area.
Houston Chronicle, Eric Berger, March 28, 2013

Showtime, Cheadle staking out the drought in Plainview – The Showtime cable channel is producing a documentary on the ongoing Texas drought, and its primary shooting location is Plainview. The documentary was originally prompted by the closure of the Cargill beef processing plant. Showtime wanted to put a human face on climate change, so its production crew, along with participating actor Don Cheadle and Katharine Hayhoe, co-director of the Texas Tech Climate Science Center, has been conducting interviews with Plainview residents and intends to continue following their stories throughout this year.
Amarillo Globe-News, William Kerns, March 29, 2013


Dozens Of Firefighters Battle Wind-Fanned Wildfire – About 30 firefighters and Forest Service personnel worked to contain a wind-blown wildfire that threatened five homes and forced nearby residents to evacuate. Started by a campfire in Iron Bridge State Park, the fire has burned about 175 acres and gusty winds and rough terrain are making the firefighters’ work difficult. Even so, the fire was 75 percent contained by Monday night.
KBTX 3 Bryan/College Station, TX, no author listed, March 4, 2013

Work to reduce wildfire threat will take months – With more red flag days than normal recently, AFD is pursuing a Wildfire Mitigation Program aimed at making the city proactive rather than reactive in preventing and containing wildfires. Initiatives in the program include eliminating dry brush (which may take months to complete), coordination with environmental groups to help preserve endangered species in fire-prone areas of Austin, and outreach to homeowners about caring for their homes in ways that can help prevent fires.
KVUE-TV Austin, TX, Kris Betts, March 4, 2013

AFD begins wildfire preparation plan – The Austin Fire Department briefed the city’s Public Safety Commission on Monday about the AFD’s preparations to fight wildfires this summer. Currently, AFD is adding more personnel and conducting community outreach about fire issues, such as clearing brush from private land. The next phase should start in April, and will likely include hiring two new captains and making sure every call has a minimum of four firefighters assigned to it.
YNN Austin/Round Rock/San Marcos, Sebastian Robertson, March 5, 2013

Texas lawmakers to pay wildfire costs – The devastating 2011 fire season saw major wildfires like the one in Bastrop, which damaged or destroyed 1700 homes and over 32,000 acres. While efforts are already underway to rebuild, repair, and replant, state legislators are still trying to cover the costs of those disasters. House Bill 1025 allocates $161 million to the Texas Forest Service for the cost of battling those fires, and should get to the floor by mid-March. While Governor Perry is floating the idea of tapping the Rainy Day Fund to help pay the costs, House budget writers have not done so yet. Instead, they are looking to add more money to the payments for the Department of Public Safety and the Parks and Wildlife Department. Ultimately, Bastrop County may seek about $27 million from the federal government in wildfire-related aid.
KXAN 36 Austin, Josh Hinkle, March 5, 2013

Iron Bridge Wildfire Rekindles Again – The Iron Bridge wildfire, which has been off and on since Sunday, is on again, having rekindled late Wednesday morning despite light winds. Damage from the rekindled fire now covers about 260 acres. A Forest Service spokesman said the fire was about 45 percent contained as of late Wednesday morning.
KWTX-TV Waco, TX, Paul J. Gately, March 6, 2013

Firefighters Conquer Stubborn Waco Area Wildfire – Firefighters have finally fully contained the Iron Bridge wildfire, which burned about 500 acres since March 3. They should be done dousing hotspots by Sunday.
KBTX Bryan, TX, AP, March 10, 2013

Strong Cold Front Keeps Howard County Firefighters Busy – Firefighters in Howard County had to deal with several small fires Saturday night. Strong wind gusts from the cold front that passed through the area earlier downed several power lines in the southeast part of the county. All fires have already been contained, including one that scorched 250 acres and several smaller ones nearby. No structures were damaged, but firefighters reported that there were some close calls.
News West 9 Midland, no author listed, March 24, 2013

Water Supply

Midland Mayor Says More Water Projects Still On The Way – While a project to pump water from the local T-Bar Ranch to Midland may well give the city a 40-year water supply, Mayor Wes Perry is already looking ahead to a possible partnership with nearby cities that may create a new 100-year water supply. The T-Bar Ranch project involved 45 wells whose water is pumped into Midland, but the potential partnership between Midland, Abilene, and San Angelo, dubbed the West Texas Water Partnership, is aimed at creating a lake north of Abilene that could supply 100 years’ worth of water to the three cities. However, with a price tag of over half a billion dollars and a likely 20 years in the making, this project will face significant technical and legal hurdles, meaning conservation efforts will likely still be the order of the day for residents in these areas.
KWES 9 Midland, Josh Navarro, March 4, 2013

Reservoirs Make Comeback in Parched Texas – With the ongoing drought continuing to deplete water supplies even as Texas cities continue to grow, many of these cities are turning to reservoirs as alternative sources of water. In addition to a partnership between Abilene, Midland, and San Angelo, the Upper Trinity Regional Water District wants to build a $270 million reservoir called Ralph Hall Lake northeast of Dallas; the Lower Colorado River Authority wants to build a $206 million reservoir off the Colorado River for rice farmers; and Dow Chemical plans to build a third reservoir for its plant in Freeport. Environmentalists have opposed reservoirs for some time due to the expense, environmental damage from building them, and the fact that climate change makes them less worthwhile, since warmer temperatures mean more evaporation from reservoir surfaces.
The Texas Tribune, Elena Schneider, March 4, 2013

Texas board lists top water projects – The Texas Water Development Board has come up with an $8 billion list of projects aimed at protecting and expanding the state’s water supplies. Coming amid contention from lawmakers about which projects deserve priority and about mismanagement by the agency, the list provides some insight as to projects that state leaders may consider, most of which involve getting water to the state’s largest population centers. Funding the projects is also an issue, given existing proposals to use $2 billion from the Texas Rainy Day Fund along with the $6 billion bond authority owned by the water board.
CBS DFW (no call sign listed), AP, March 6, 2013

Valley water shortage renews tensions with Mexico – Under a 1944 treaty between the U.S. and Mexico, the two countries share the waters of the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers. In recent decades, however, drought has caused water shortages on both sides of the border that were bad enough that Mexico could not meet its obligations under the treaty. So far, 13 area cities and two municipal suppliers have been informed that their water could run out within the next 60 days due to the fact that their supplies go through farmers’ irrigation channels first. Alternatives could include re-digging old wells, finding areas with surplus water to sell, and getting Mexico to release enough water to meet its treaty obligations.
The Houston Chronicle, Lynn Brezosky, March 10, 2013

Ground water replacing Lake Meredith for CRMWA – The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority will stop drawing surface water from Lake Meredith and instead begin drawing groundwater from wells in Roberts County. The difficult part will be getting the water to cities the authority serves, including Amarillo, Lubbock, and smaller towns. A pipeline would likely cost about $280 million and not be completed until 2025, and though the supply originating from the Ogallala Aquifer may last 130 years even under the worst-case scenario, city and water authority officials would prefer not to draw it down anytime soon. Thus, cities such as Lubbock turn to other sources, such as Bailey County and Lake Alan Henry, to help distribute the consumption pattern and keep from hitting any one supply too hard. Conservation, of course, is always heavily emphasized.
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Chris Hoff, March 10, 2013

In Texas, water use for fracking stirs concerns – In oil boomtowns like Carrizo Springs, local water supplies are being strained by the demands of energy companies who use millions of gallons in the fracking process. In addition, the process is often claimed to contaminate area groundwater, potentially posing a threat to human health and safety. These concerns have drawn the attention of the Texas Legislature, which has been conducting hearings on fracking and grilling energy companies about ways to reduce or recycle water used in the fracking process. So far, only about one-fifth of the water used in fracking in Texas is from recycled or brackish sources. Agencies such as the Railroad Commission are looking to tighten regulations around water use by energy companies.
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, no author listed, March 10, 2013

Water issues the focus at Hyatt workshop – Bastrop City Council members gathered at a Hyatt Hotel for a working retreat determined that they needed to get firm deadlines on taking action to preserve the city’s future water supply. After a water crisis brought on last year by an iron-eating bacteria invading three of the city’s five wells last year, the city hired K. Friese & Associates water consultants to develop a future-needs water plan for the city. With that plan nearly ready to present to the city council, they decided to meet with K Friese personnel and report back to the council by the end of April/start of May.
Austin American-Statesman, Terry Hagerty, March 14, 2013

Rio Bosque Wetlands Park to get water help – The El Paso Public Service Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to design and build a pipeline to draw treated water from a nearby wastewater treatment plant directly to the Rio Bosque Wetlands Park, and to negotiate for year-round water from the local water improvement district. Current winter-only supplies and tanks of water from the plant have proved not to be enough to maintain the wetlands. The PSB could take a permit request to the TCEQ by September 2014, and the approval would likely take six months to a year beyond that. Pipeline construction could begin within a few years.
El Paso Times, Cindy Ramirez, March 14, 2013

No decision on permits to export water – The Lost Pines Groundwater Conservation District (LPGCD) is considering whether or not to approve permits that would distribute water from Bastrop and Lee county wells to other counties in Central Texas. The four permit applications combine for a total request of 100,000 acre-feet of water to be pumped to locations in Hays, Williamson, and Travis counties. Bastrop and Lee county residents packed Bastrop City Hall Wednesday night to oppose the plan, fearing for their own water supplies and that of endangered species in the area, though some residents may stand to profit from the sale of the water.
KXAN 36 Austin, Angie Beavin, March 21, 2013

Wichita Falls official rebuts report on water – A Wichita Falls city utility official contested a report in an online magazine that the city only had 180 days of water left. According to Daniel Nix of the city’s Public Works department, the city actually has enough water to last through early summer of 2014, and only ended up on the watch list of 180-day water supplies because there was no Stage 3 category to check off when notifying the TCEQ of the increased water restrictions. After talking with TCEQ officials, the city will remain on the list due to its current water restrictions and its likelihood of entering Stage 4 restrictions in the near future. Wichita Falls plans to build a wastewater reuse system, and is in the process of getting TCEQ approval for the plan. The reuse system is expected to go online next February or March if all goes according to plan.
Wichita Falls Times Record News, John Ingle, March 22, 2013

Drought Contingency Plan Stage 3 Implemented – The city of Alice continues to implement Stage 3 water restrictions according to its Drought Contingency Plan. With the Lake Corpus Christi water level at only 77 feet elevation, a drop of just three feet would be enough to trigger Stage 4 restrictions. Currently, the city is encouraging residents to conserve water, limiting watering days to twice a week only between the hours of 6-8 AM and 8-10 PM, urging residents to fix any plumbing leaks as soon as possible, and refraining from washing sidewalks, driveways, and vehicles.
Alice Echo-News Journal, Claudia Garcia, March 25, 2013

Reclaimed water project expands to UT – Austin Water’s Reclaimed Water program - which takes treated wastewater for reuse in landscaping, chilling stations, and more – is now working at the UT-Austin campus. In this way, the university hopes to save up to 70 million gallons of potable water each year. The project goes beyond the university to encompass the whole city. More projects are underway in the Capitol district and other parts of Austin to use more reclaimed water, up to 8.5 billion gallons per year according to Austin Water’s plans. That should free up enough tap water to serve an additional 25,000 homes, and help to conserve existing supplies.
KXAN-36 Austin, Natalie Stoll, March 27, 2013

Heights council OKs $8M purchase of water – The Harker Heights city council has approved the purchase of 2 million gallons of treated water from the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District (WCID) No. 1 for $8.42 million. A to-be-constructed water treatment plant at Stillhouse Hollow Lake will provide the water, and the funding will come from Harker Heights’ utility fund. The $8.42 million represents the city’s portion of the design, engineering, and construction costs of the plant.
Killeen Daily Herald, Kristi Johnson, March 27, 2013

Edwards Aquifer could hit new low by summer – The Edwards Aquifer in south central Texas could break its record low level set in 1956, by this summer, according to the San Antonio Water System (SAWS). As a result, SAWS expects the city to enter Stage 3 water restrictions by the end of April, and Stage 4 restrictions by the end of May, lasting through the end of the year. This will hopefully allow SAWS to avoid being fined for overpumping, and then having to pass the extra cost on to its customers in 2014. So far, residents don’t seem to be taking the threat seriously, based on current pumping rates, so SAWS has hired police officers to write tickets for property owners who don’t follow the restrictions. While the aquifer likely needs several days of steady, moderate rain through the end of June to recharge, the forecast from the Climate Prediction Center in Maryland suggests the region will have a 76.7% chance of average to below-average rainfall from now through June.
San Antonio Express-News, Colin McDonald, March 27, 2013

Agricultural Impacts

Cotton plantings predicted to be down as much as 25 percent – A Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist has predicted Texas cotton production to be down up to 25 percent this year compared with last year. Brief rains in early January may encourage farmers to plant wheat and sorghum instead of cotton due to price differences, with grain prices relatively high compared to cotton. Expected hot and dry conditions this summer are also likely having an effect on Texas farmers’ decision-making for this year.
Abilene Reporter-News, Robert Burns, March 3, 2013

Relentless drought dries up business at feed stores – The ongoing Texas drought continues to cause problems for Texas ranchers. With little to no grass available for feed in some areas, hay and feed pellets are all that’s available, and both options are expensive: for example, a round bale of hay costs around $95, but will likely only last two to three days. However, due to ranchers selling off livestock, feed providers have to find other ways to get by. For the foreseeable future, the drought seems likely to stick around, so the belt-tightening for ranchers and feed providers will also likely continue.
YNN Austin/Round Rock/San Marcos, Bonnie Gonzalez, March 15, 2013

South Texas drought taking its toll on cattle ranchers – South Texas ranchers are increasingly being forced to adopt unusual methods of keeping their cattle fed. One such method is known as chamuscando, or burning the spines off of prickly pear cactus so cattle can safely eat the plant. These days, ranchers use propane torches to do the burning, which gets expensive since starting a regimen of chamuscando requires having a two-day supply of spineless cacti, and burning that many spines takes a lot of propane fuel, which is expensive. Ranchers can still buy hay, but it will likely become more expensive as water required to grow it becomes more scarce, and hauling water from elsewhere by truck, though cheap, is long, hard work for the many (mostly elderly) ranchers in the region.
Texas A&M AgriLife Today, Rod Santa Ana, March 20, 2013

Hard Freeze Likely Damaged Much of Fall-Emerged Wheat – Hard freezes that occurred March 24th-26th may have damaged a significant portion of this year’s winter wheat crop. According to Dr. Travis Miller of the TAMU AgriLife Extension Service (and Soil and Crop Sciences associate department head), sub-freezing temperatures across the Panhandle and Blacklands of Texas likely damaged wheat crops in advanced growth stages, which are vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Wheat farmers would need to do manual inspections to discover damage, since thermometers may be inaccurate, and damage takes up to a week to appear on the plants themselves. Dr. Miller is predicting a below-average yield of winter wheat this year.
High Plains Observer, no author listed, March 27, 2013

North Plains GCD 2012 "200-12 Project" Report Available – The North Plains Groundwater Conservation District (NPGCD, located at the Texas Panhandle’s northern border with Oklahoma) has published its latest report on the progress of its “200-12” project. The project is named for its goal of growing 200 bushels of corn on 12 inches of irrigation water per acre, with the intent being to show that in years with normal rainfall of about 8 inches during the growing season, irrigation can be safely cut by six inches with no damage or loss of crops (not just corn). This way, farmers can use management technologies and high efficiency irrigation systems to reduce groundwater use while remaining profitable, even as general water supplies decrease. According to the GCD, reducing irrigation volume by even just three inches over the 1 million irrigated acres in the North Texas Panhandle can save 250,000 acre-feet of groundwater each year.
High Plains Observer, no author listed, March 29, 2013

Inclement Weather

Cold/Winter Weather

'Thundersnow' led to higher snowfall total – NWS meteorologists said that thundersnow contributed to the 19 inches of snow that fell on Amarillo during the February 25 blizzard. An intense snow band associated with a zone of relatively high atmospheric instability passed over the city, bringing snowfall rates of 2-3 inches per hour. The blizzard became Amarillo’s largest recorded one-day snowfall for the month of February, and also created an all-time record snow depth for the city of 17 inches.
Amarillo Globe-News, Joe Richardson, March 2, 2013


Rain and hail Saturday doesn't close precipitation gap in Abilene – An early morning rain and hail storm brought just over half an inch of rain and quarter-sized hailstones to the Abilene area, though no damage was reported. This year, Abilene has received 2.45 inches of precipitation, compared to the normal year-to-date amount of 3.68 inches. Other parts of the Big Country area fared worse, with amounts less than a tenth of an inch being most common.
Abilene Reporter-News, Christopher Collins, March 23, 2013


Electricity supply tight for Abilene, and rest of state, this summer – The Electricity Reliability Council of Texas said Friday that since this summer was likely to be as hot and dry as 2011, electricity supply would once again be tight, raising the possibility of summertime outages across parts of the state. A preliminary assessment predicted a peak load of about 68,000 MW this summer, and if demand goes beyond 74,000 MW, outages are likely to begin occurring at that threshold. As a result, ERCOT is looking more closely at expanding its wind energy capacity, since it is the cheapest non-water-driven power source available.
Abilene Reporter-News, John Mangalonzo, March 1, 2013

Severe Weather

Wind storm ravages Hays County – A wind storm with gusts over 50 mph passed through Hays county Monday night, causing wind damage, power outages, and fires. An elderly couple with neither family nor insurance lost most of the roof of their house east of Kyle, firefighters in Kyle had to deal with windy conditions while fighting a brush fire, a different fire gutted a garage in Oxbow, and widespread falling branches caused power outages. A historical tree, the “hanging tree” in Kyle Cemetery, had a large branch knocked down by the wind storm.
Hays Free Press, Staff Reports, March 1, 2013

Storm produces baseball size hail, tears roof off grocery store – Severe weather in Hamilton, 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth, tore the roof off of a grocery store and downed some trees Saturday night. Baseball size hail hit areas northwest of Decatur in Wise County and hail from one inch to golf ball size struck other counties including Palo Pinto, Montague, Parker and Cook, though no immediate damage reports were received. The storms produced 0.5-1 inch of rain in most areas, with isolated spots receiving about 2 inches.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Susan McFarland, March 9, 2013

Overnight storms pour up to 1 inch of rain on Austin; some outages, no damaging winds, hail reported – Storms moved through Austin about 4 AM Sunday night, leaving about 2,900 homes without power but no significant damage aside from power lines downed by tree branches. Rain totaled 0.75-1 inch, and winds gusted up to 60 mph southwest of Austin.
The Austin American-Statesman, Farzad Mashhood, March 10, 2013

South Plains hit with another dust storm – Sunday evening a line of storms passed through the Lubbock area, bringing little rain, but high winds and reports of brief tornadoes. Wind gusts in excess of 60 mph were suspected of bringing down several power lines north of Lubbock. The storms were accompanied by a dust storm that reduced visibility to less than one mile in some areas.
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Lessha Faulkner, March 18, 2013

Hail, strong winds and light rain pound Central Texas – Hailstones up to 2 inches, wind gusts over 60 mph, and at least a quarter inch of rain fell across Central Texas Tuesday night ahead of a cold front moving across the state. Pea-size hail fell in bunches over several locations around Austin, in some places covering the ground in large piles of hail. Local utilities put crews out in case of outages, but none were reported and no major damage occurred. Nearby Burnet recorded wind gusts of 67 mph and over half an inch of rain.
Austin American-Statesman, Claudia Grisales, March 20, 2013

Strong storm drops damaging hail – An early morning hailstorm caused significant damage to the town of Brookshire, just outside of Katy, Wednesday morning. All north-facing apartment windows were shattered at one complex, house windows were broken by hail around the area, and a local greenhouse received significant damage estimated in the thousands of dollars. Lasting nearly ten minutes, the hailstorm left small-to-mid-sized piles of quarter-size hail before moving on.
KPRC Local 2 Houston, no author listed, March 20, 2013

Storms, hail hit North Texas – Strong storms passed through North Texas Saturday morning, bringing hail, strong winds, and lightning to the area. Mansfield saw enough small hail that it settled into snow-like drifts. Wind gusts reached 40 mph. A photo from DeSoto showed a parking lot covered in hail drifts.
KDFW 4 Dallas-Fort Worth, no author listed, March 23, 2013

Station Update: KTEN Struck by Lightning – TV station KTEN-10 Texoma was struck by lightning shortly before midnight of March 23. Lightning from a nearby storm struck the tower and damaged multiple subsystems, taking down the KTEN, ABC Texoma, and Texoma CW channels. The station reports that they lost quite a bit of equipment, and that their network feeds will be down while they replace the damaged equipment.
KTEN-10 Texoma, no author listed, March 24, 2013

Other Climate Impacts

Animals/Aquatic Life

Texas White Bass, other fisheries threatened by drought – An annual rite of spring for Texas fishers and anglers is the white bass run that typically happens where rivers empty into lakes/reservoirs. It also has a big effect on the local economies of fishing areas such as Lake Buchanan, where from March-May 2011, fishermen spent about $2.5 million on their trips, about $1 million of that coming from people from out-of-state. However, the ongoing drought and increased water demands are threatening this ecological and economic event by lowering reservoir levels to the point where upstream rivers are cut off from the reservoirs, preventing fishermen from making their catch and the white bass from spawning. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working with national agencies and private groups to help support and maintain fish habitats nationwide and in Texas.
Corsicana Daily Sun, Staff Report, March 7, 2013

Drought causing dog food recall – Ongoing drought conditions aren’t just affecting crops and wildlife, but our pets as well. Aflatoxin, a mold that grows best on corn and other grains in hot, dry conditions such as during drought, has been found in Hy-Vee brand dog food, and more companies are already testing their products for aflatoxin. While no cases have been reported in the Amarillo area, it’s recommended to use well-known national dog food brands to be safer.
KFDA-TV Amarillo, TX, no author listed, March 12, 2013

Judge orders Texas to protect whooping cranes – A federal judge has ruled against the state of Texas and TCEQ in a case where 23 endangered whooping cranes died during the winter of 2008-2009. In order to preserve water resources for human and industrial use, state officials denied a water permit that would have ensured enough fresh water made it to wetland habitats favored by the migratory cranes. As a result, the cranes died due to lack of food, since the increased salinity in the wetland areas drove away the crabs the cranes like to eat. The judge ordered the TCEQ to use its existing emergency authority to devise a plan to provide enough fresh water to the cranes’ habitat. She also ordered that no water permits be granted until the TCEQ develops that plan.
Houston Chronicle, Mike Tolson, March 12, 2013

Drought conditions contribute to decline in monarch populations – The monarch butterfly is one of the animal species that are feeling the effects of the ongoing Texas drought. In addition to direct losses from the drought and wildfires in recent years, the monarchs’ primary food source - milkweed plants - has struggled to survive in Texas as well, also due to the drought and wildfires, thus impeding the migratory butterflies’ progress from their winter home in Mexico to their summer home in Canada. Craig Wilson, a Texas A&M university researcher with the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, and even former President Jimmy Carter, both are advocating for efforts to plant milkweed and change farming practices, among other steps that can help preserve the monarch butterfly and allow it to continue its annual migration between Mexico and Canada.
Houston Chronicle, Erin Mulvaney, March 14, 2013

Landowner sues Tarrant water district over pipeline – A wealthy landowner in Henderson county is suing the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) for allegedly approving a water pipeline to run through his property without any public input on the project. The landowner runs a 1,000-acre wildlife refuge for endangered species and says the pipeline would harm the animals and their habitat. He accuses the TRWD of violating the Texas Open Meetings Act by not allowing for public comment and not making their meetings on the project open to the public. The wildlife refuge is fully permitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a "captive-bred" facility for endangered species. The pipeline is part of TRWD’s $2.3 billion joint project with Dallas Water Utilities to bring more water from existing East Texas reservoirs to the Dallas area. The TRWD plans to contest the lawsuit.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Elizabeth Campbell/Bill Hanna, March 19, 2013


Allergy Season Kicks Off Early In Texoma – Allergy cases are on the rise in the Texoma region, though not for the reasons most people think. While popular opinion puts it down to the constantly fluctuating temperatures, local doctors recognize that early blooming, combined with windier and drier conditions, can cause allergies and make them worse. In addition, the ongoing drought can play a role by encouraging the dry, dusty conditions that can make allergies worse.
KAUZ Wichita Falls, TX, Tanya De Jesus, March 12, 2013


Parks and Recreation Department Working to Save Trees During Drought – With over 90 species accounting for the city’s 20,000 trees, the Wichita Falls Parks and Recreation Department is taking steps to protect them from the ongoing drought. Wichita Falls is currently under Stage 3 water restrictions, so direct irrigation is limited to drip irrigation. This means the city has had to spread mulch around the trees in order to help preserve the water currently available and provide necessary nutrients. Should Stage 4 restrictions be put in place, even the drip irrigation would have to stop, and the city would have to start looking at finding more drought-tolerant trees.
KFDX Wichita Falls, TX, David Gonzalez, March 12, 2013


House approves way to pay for more water projects – The Texas House of Representatives voted Wednesday to create a revolving, low-interest loan program to help pay for water-supply projects across the state. State Rep. Allen Ritter has filed a separate bill to provide initial funding of $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, though opponents would rather reduce the withdrawn amount or not use the Fund at all to pay for the program. A similar bill has been filed in the state Senate, though no action has been taken on it so far. The vote comes as Texas’ population is expected to balloon to 46 million people by 2060, and the ongoing Texas drought continues to threaten existing water supplies.
Houston Chronicle, Matthew Tresaugue, March 27, 2013


Drought takes toll on Lake Murray boaters – Boaters on Lake Murray are having a more and more difficult time getting boats out onto and off of the lake due to the ongoing Texas drought. With the lake level six feet below normal and the shoreline farther from the banks than normal, park managers have closed all but three of their ten boat ramps as a result. The low lake levels have prompted both recreational boaters and fishermen to exercise additional caution due to the increased danger of running aground on underwater obstacles such as sandbars, tree stumps, and rocks. Big boats have been especially troublesome to deal with since they require special equipment to get in and out of the water.
KXII 12 Sherman, Helen Headlee, March 21, 2013


Wolfforth resident helps clear snow from roads, parking lots – After a February 25 snowstorm left much of Wolfforth, TX under cover, City Council member and owner of R&J Dirtworks Randy Gross offered his equipment and manpower to the city to help clear away snow and make roads passable again. He was able to get a large tractor-trailer rig unstuck and out of a road it had blocked, and also cleared snow from Frenship school district parking lots. Wolfforth City Manager Darrell Newsom said the city plans to reimburse him for fuel costs incurred by his volunteer work.
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Karen Michael, March 7, 2013

Body shop business booms after blizzard – Amarillo-area body shops are seeing a jump in the number of customers after a blizzard earlier in the week caused a number of accidents and other road problems across the area. Some shops said they usually get a 20 percent increase in the number of customers after blizzards, while one shop said they expect double the normal number of customers this month compared with last month. The shops only see relatively few totaled cars in snow-related accidents, while most of the other repair jobs are minor (though still around $3000-5000 dollars each).
KFDA-TV Amarillo, no author listed, March 1, 2013

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