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Drought/Burn Bans/Fire Hazards

Burn Bans

County-wide burn bans through June 1

Aransas County has banned the sale and possession of selected fireworks because of drought conditions. Any firework denoted as “skyrocket with sticks” or “missiles with fins” are not to be used in the county. These particular fireworks are unpredictable in high winds and could easily ignite a grass fire upon landing.
Rockport Pilot, May 29, 2009


Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, May 5, 2009
U.S. Drought Monitor, May 26, 2009

The 45,000+ acres destroyed by a wildfire in Montague County last month have left farmers with 1,000 miles and $10 million in fence repairs and little hay to feed their cattle. Hay donations have arrived in the county, though residents are also worried about the future of their charred trees.
Sealy News, May 2, 2009

The drought in the Panhandle as disappeared for now as recent rainfall has increased soil moisture and benefited crops. However, lake levels in the area has not raised lake levels, since the rain has not fallen in necessary recharging zones.
KFDA (Amarillo), May 9, 2009

South Texas, including Corpus Christi, has experienced one of the worst droughts in their recorded history. The area has a deficit of more than 15 inches over the past 9 months. At least 56 wildfires have been reported in South Texas this year, even though burn bans have remained in effect since the beginning of the year. Though drought has persisted, water levels are not critically low, though residents should conserve water in every manner they can.
Corpus Christi Caller, Mike Baird, May 22, 2009

The San Marcos area has recently been downgraded to the “extreme drought” category, though less than half the normal annual rainfall has fallen thus far. More than 8% of Texas, mostly in southern regions, are in the worst drought category.
San Marcos Daily Record, Anita Miller, May 24, 2009

The Panhandle of Texas, including Lubbock, have been classified once more as being in drought, though conditions are not yet severe. Little rain has fallen for much of Texas during the last half of the month, leading to drier and more fire-prone areas than at the beginning of May.
KCBD (Lubbock), James Clark, May 31, 2009

Water Supply

In order to conserve water and ease drought stresses, Austin management officials ask residents to follow simple conservation techniques implemented and enforced on commercial water customers, including watering during the late evening to early morning, watering only two times per week, and replacing broken sprinklers. Other indoor conservation techniques include fixing leaky pipes, using water-efficient showerheads and commodes, and wash full loads of laundry.
KHOU (Houston), May 1, 2009

San Marcos residents have one of the smallest per capita water loads (122 gallons per person per day) and plan to improve to 107 gallons per person per day by 2060.
San Marcos Record, May 8, 2009

A growing San Antonio population and excessive drought has led San Antonio water management officials to search for options on how to obtain water. This has Victoria city officials concerned that San Antonio might tap into the Guadalupe River, Victoria’s source of water. Coupled with this concern, a proposed nuclear power plant would need excessive water for cooling purposes, while wildlife experts are concerned about the effect on whooping cranes and other wildlife.
Victoria Advocate, Gabe Semenza, May 6, 2009

Many Texans are asking the Texas Congress to consider how climate change will affect water planning and resources. Some cities have proposed plans to place fees on bottle water to pay for new infrastructure, but most simply want reassurance that water management considerations are an important part of preparing for droughts like the one of the past year.
Dallas Morning News, May 11, 2009

Climate experts agree that droughts will most likely become more frequent and water availability will become more important in the next several decades. Fire hazards, higher water prices, and involuntary conservation practices could become the norm for Texans if the climate keeps warming.
KERA (Dallas), Bill Zeeble, May 14, 2009

Weslaco will hold a conservation seminar on June 6th to educate the public on how to reduce energy and water usage. This follows a similar seminar which provided information on how to collect water using a rainwater harvesting system.
Monitor (McAllen), Nora N. Garza, May 20, 2009

Agricultural Impacts

Some peach farmers around Fredericksburg have lost 90% of their crop due to two late freezes along with a destructive hail storm in the past month. Although blackberries have fared better, most of the peaches have been destroyed. One farmer, who normally has trees with over 500 peaches, will produce less than 5 good peaches per tree.
KEYE (Austin), May 1, 2009

West Texas and Panhandle farmers have a much more optimistic view on their upcoming planting, as drought conditions have subsided throughout much of the area. However, more rains need to come to lock in soil moisture.
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Joshua Hull, May 2, 2009

Many Central Texas wheat farmers have also been hit by three freezes in less than two weeks in mid-April. More than half the wheat crop has been killed, while almost 50% of some grape species have succumbed to the cold weather. However, late blooming grapes have not been affected.
Wichita Falls Times Record News, Joe Brown, May 4, 2009

Although the freeze did affect corn crops, they are expected to do well. In fact, some Central Texas farmers who planted only corn crops have found themselves without storage room, because several timely rains have greened their corn fields. If more rain comes in proper intervals, farmers could expect an above average corn crop.
YNN (Austin), May 4, 2009

Farmers in some Texas counties, including Mason County, are eligible to receive an emergency loan through the Farm Service Agency if at least 30% of their crops was destroyed by drought, fires, or other inclement weather. Farmers can apply until late December of this year.
Mason County News, May 6, 2009

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service advise South Texas farmers plagued with drought to practice conservation tillage techniques, which can save both time, labor, and water. Basically, the technique uses crop waste from last year as a compost.
Mason County News , Blair Fannin & Paul Schattenberg, May 6, 2009

Recent rains have helped a struggling South Central Texas milo and pecan crop, though the corn crop in this area has been practically destroyed. Drought in the San Antonio area, including Seguin, has particularly affected farmers, though future rains could turn out a fair crop.
Seguin Gazette, Ron Maloney, May 17, 2009

According to Dr. Travis Miller, the statewide AgriLife agronomist, the drought and late April freezes have cost farmers from 20%-100% of their wheat crop. Areas north of Amarillo have good wheat crops, but most farmers have seen poor wheat crops through the entire season. One farmer has seen only 16 bushels of wheat per acre, compared to 60 bushels per acre last year.
Texas A&M AgirLife, Robert Burns, May 19, 2009

South Texas corn farmers have not been so fortunate; a stark contrast between irrigated and non-irrigated corn fields give ample evidence of the toll the drought has had on South Texas.
Victoria Advocate, Allison Miles, May 20, 2009

The cotton crop of South Texas is under tremendous stress from little rainfall and persistent winds. More than 80% of the Nueces County cotton crop has been destroyed from drought, and the rest are on the way. Consequently, gin laborers have been laid off from lack of cotton production.
Texas A&M AgirLife, Rod Santa Ana, May 22, 2009

The 55th Annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course was set for August 3-5 in College Station, which will discuss impacts of drought, production costs, disease, and weak markets, all experienced by ranchers this year.
Lexington Leader, May 24, 2009

Drought has not affected High Plains grape farmers as much as peanut, wheat, or corn farmers since grapes require less water. In fact, the industry has skyrocketed and grapes have become very valuable, especially with the High Plains weather experienced this year.
San Antonio Express-News, , May 27, 2009

Inclement Weather


A 49 year old El Paso man died in his home on Friday to due high heat and prolonged medical difficulties. This becomes the cities first death caused by high heat.
KFOX (El Paso), May 9, 2009


Jefferson County and other state officials request that the President reverse FEMA’s decision to withdraw federal monies used to reimburse the county for removal of any hazardous material left after Hurricane Ike. At least $25 million is needed to fund complete removal of the debris.
KBMT (Beaumont), May 8, 2009

Hurricane Ike has created a poor nesting ground for sea turtles on Bolivar beaches. Historically a premium nesting spot, erosion and debris have caused sea turtles, including the endangered Kemps Ridleys, to search for better nesting sites.
Beaumont Enterprise, Sarah Moore, May 19, 2009

After Hurricane Ike pushed 15 feet of seawater inland, alligator populations began to decrease as coastal freshwater marshes became salty. Alligators were forced to move inland to other sources of freshwater, including rivers, canals, and ditches. Smaller alligators have been most severely impacted, though populations could rebound next year.
San Antonio Express-News, May 22, 2009

Because of Hurricane Ike, the rich, healthy oyster beds of Galveston Bay have been reduced by 70%. In fact, Sabine is now said to be the best oyster bed for the state, though ecologists worry about depleting oyster bed in Texas and around the world.
Beaumont Enterprise, Sarah Moore, May 25, 2009

Homeowners are seeing insurance premiums rising as hurricane season begins on the first of June. Over $26 billion was paid by insurance agencies to those affected by hurricanes last year, and to offset the number of claims, premiums are on the rise.
Herald Democrat (Sherman/Denison), May 31, 2009

Severe Weather

Freestone County and Limestone County received as much as ten inches of rain in a storm lasting several hours. At least two water rescues were reported as motorists tried to cross flowing water, which washed their cars off the road.
Teague Chronicle, May 4, 2009

In East Texas, crewmen worked nonstop to repair at least 50 electric poles that were downed by high winds. Several trees and tin from roofs were also removed from the area, while 8,000 power customers were without electricity.
KTRE (Tyler), Donna McCollum, May 4, 2009

Plano officials were swarmed with calls as a severe storm swept through the area. Lightning cause traffic lights to fail, trees blocked roadways, flooded creeks caused minor delays, and at least 5 tornadoes were reported in North Texas. One tornado was likely in Zavalla, where multiple trees and power lines were downed and several barns and homes were destroyed.
Plano Star Courier, Stephanie Flemmons, May 5, 2009

In Brown County, a severe storm brought golf ball sized hail, high winds, heavy rains, and an unofficial tornado report in Early. However, official wind reports confirm gusts as high as 85 mph. At least 10,000 city residents lost power from the high winds, coupled with cloud-to-ground lightning that blew out transformers.
Abilene Reporter-News, Celinda Emison, May 9, 2009

A research project costing nearly $12 million will investigate how tornadoes work and the damages they cause. The project, called the Verification of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment 2 or Vortex2, will end on June 13 and hopes to improve tornado warning times so that the public can have a chance to move to safety.
KWTX (Waco), May 10, 2009

Brownwood’s Camp Wood Lake, a popular Girl Scout camp destination, received damage to its facilities after a storm left tents and large trees down. However, summer activities should run as scheduled, even though some tents experienced irreparable damage.
Abilene Reporter-News, Celinda Emison, May 13, 2009

Storm spotter reported several funnel clouds over Central Texas, including Gatesville, when severe storms moved through the area. Local meteorologists say these funnels can be associated with warm, humid air in tropical weather systems.
KWTX (Waco), May 24, 2009

Other Climate Impacts

Air/Water Quality

Ozone forecasting begins today as warm weather returns to Texas. Clear skies, little wind, and high temperatures create the most conducive environment for ozone to form. Dallas is among many areas of the U.S. that regularly fail federal standards.
Dallas Morning News, May 1, 2009

Sensitive residents of Hunt County have been placed on air quality alert as ozone levels have reached a level unhealthy to at-risk individuals. Temperature inversions, which place a cap on pollution and can be common in Texas, can cause very high concentrations of a pollutant to build and create hazardous air.
Herald Banner (Greenville), Brad Kellar, May 30, 2009


Roof repairers have had steady work since April’s stretch of severe storms pounded residences with golf ball sized hail.
NewsWest9 (Midland), Wyatt Goolsby, May 21, 2009


An angler on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was struck by lightning when competing in an amateur fishing competition. He is alive and well, but remembers very little of his experience. All boaters are urged to carry a NOAA weather radio and proceed immediately out of the water if they see lightning.
Huntsville Item, Matt Williams, May 6, 2009


Midland-Odessa ranked as the top cookout capital in Texas mainly because of its climate, namely very few precipitation days and many days with high temperatures under 90°F from May to August.
Dallas Morning News, May 11, 2009

Brownwood’s Camp Wood Lake, a popular Girl Scout camp destination, received damage to its facilities after a storm left tents and large trees down. However, summer activities should run as scheduled, even though some tents experienced irreparable damage.
Brownwood Bulletin, May 14, 2009

Canyon Lake has dropped to very low levels which has created dangerous conditions for boaters. Buoys have been placed to show extremely dangerous areas but the drought has caused many of the boat ramps to become unusable.
WOAI (San Antonio), May 18, 2009

Lake Tawakoni, along with many other East Texas lakes, prepare for large crowds and many boaters as plentiful rainfall has filled lakes to near capacity. Drought in East Texas has subsided and warm weather continues to bring in vacationers.
Herald Banner (Greenville), Brad Kellar, May 21, 2009

River levels have been so low that tubers and boaters have had to carry their gear through low, rocky regions of the Comal river. Comal visitors enjoyed a rainy, chilly day for the first major tourist weekend for the area. Local tube rental shops are predicting a slow start to the summer, though slow rivers can attract families with younger children.
Seguin Gazette, May 24, 2009


A sink hole in Denison, worsened by the plentiful rain over the past week, has expanded and finally caused TXDoT officials to take action so that the hole does not reach one of Denison’s major roadways.
KXII (Denton), Rita Kotey, May 14, 2009

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