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With the start of summer just around the corner, May did not hold back in giving a few peeks at what might be to come in the next few months. Record breaking temperatures in some cities across the state affected many Texas residents in numerous ways during the month. Pairing these abnormally hot temperatures and significant dryness across several regions of the state led to more widespread degradation of drought conditions. Sporadic, and at times severe, thunderstorms provided some relief for areas affected by intense drought. Severe storms injured wildlife, damaged homes, vehicles, agriculture, and infrastructure. The month of May also proceeds the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, prompting many local government officials and residents alike, to consider safety measures and preparedness for a possible active and or destructive season.

The heat really began to kick in just before Mother’s Day. Areas in south-central and south Texas observed a return to hot and humid conditions during the middle of the second week of May. Ideal atmospheric conditions led to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to issue an Ozone Action Day for San Antonio at that time. Austin observed record-breaking temperatures on May 26 with a high of 99 degrees, four degrees higher than the previous 2008 record. Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety are continued to remind residents to be mindful of children left in cars during the late-spring heat. The intense heat had an effect on first responders throughout the month as well. Firefighters in Texas had to not only battle the heat of flames, but also the intense Texas heat in nearly 35 pounds of gear. First responders were busy during Memorial Day weekend as North Texas residents reported heat-related illnesses. MedStar responded to 6 people significantly affected by the heat, with three of those patients being taken to the hospital in the DFW area.

A large wildfire ignited in the Texas Panhandle during the third week of the month burning more than 69,000 acres. Over 300 firefighters worked for nearly a week to combat the flames which sparked due to excessively dry conditions, strong winds, and 90+ degree temperatures. The large fire also created an usual meteorological event called a pyrocumulus thunderstorm. The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in areas downwind of the fire and thunderstorm as it produced one-inch hail.

With the significant dry season extending into this very warm spring, drought expanded in numerous regions throughout the state. Some relief was felt in quite a few areas including North and Central Texas which saw heavy rain events during the beginning and middle parts of the month, alleviating the most severe designations of drought and reducing conditions to moderate, abnormally dry, or drought free. A welcome forecast by the Climate Prediction Center for the Texas Panhandle identified that the region was designated as in a neutral phase of La Nina, signaling a return to normal conditions at least through September. The prediction was highly favorable to farmers and planters, albeit slightly late, as many were forced to liquidate stock or lose cattle from death brought on by lack of grazeable land.

As many looked towards preparing for the upcoming hurricane season, southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast were still in recovery from Harvey. County officials requested that an August special election be held for residents to vote on a $2.5 billion package that would finance flood-control projects. The election and projects were in response to damage sustained by Hurricane Harvey that cost the communities and the state an estimated $125 billion. Commissioners in Harris county voted unanimously to ask the Texas governor for permission to hold the election. Disputes between local and state governments came to a head when local officials wrote to the Texas governor asking for access to relief funds. The mayor of Houston wrote to Governor Abbott requesting funds to be matched to federal grants for flood mitigation projects, while the governor asserted that applications for these projects had yet been submitted to the state.
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