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October was a complex weather month for the state of Texas. Unseasonable temperatures and worsening drought conditions were common for the first half of the month. Over the last two weeks rainfall across the state has broken records and brought with it dangerous flash flooding and severe weather. Burn bans are now in effect for 143 counties across the state. Over 5000 acres were burned by a wildfire in Bastrop County in addition to over 70 homes. A change in weather pattern brought higher humidity values and eventually rain, which helped firefighters contain the fire. Ensuing rainfall at the end of the month helped eliminate the developing flash drought conditions and brought some hydrological improvement as well, as reservoirs had dropped 4% this month, a time when levels usually don’t change, before improving by 6%.

Although the changing weather pattern helped the fire and drought conditions, it did not arrive without its own destruction. Areas of the state such as Corsicana, southern Austin, and northern Houston received upwards of 20 inches of rain throughout the month, with most of the rain falling in a period of two weeks. The Dallas/Fort Worth area also saw heavy rains totaling over 12 inches. Emergency officials responded to over 1000 weather related incidents such as high-water rescues, stranded motorists, etc, across several cities during the heavy rainfall period. Stretches of highways needed to be shut down causing traffic headaches for weekend travelers and local commuters. Late-month storms brought further flooding from high rivers and tornadoes, the later destroying 70 homes in La Porte. Damages due to the two record flooding events thus far could reach $3 billion. In an effort to better predict and understand tornado formation, Texas will see $1.9 million of a $5.7 million research agreement towards hazardous weather research.

The variability in weather was not the worst news for Texas farmers. October is the average time of year farmers harvest their summer crops. Although crop yields were hurt due to heavy rains, farmers were still able to harvest. Early season rains also benefitted winter crops for planters who took the risk even with above average rainfall expected through the winter.
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