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Burn Bans/Drought/Fires/Water Supply

Burn Bans

County-wide burn bans through October 1

September 8 – A burn ban in effect in Brazoria County since mid-June has been extended for 90 days. The ban can be lifted if rainfall of at least 6 inches falls and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures soil moisture, drops by 300 points.

September 12 – A burn ban that had been in effect since June 26 in Williamson County was lifted due to recent rainfall.

September 15 – County commissioners in Guadalupe County voted to lift a weekday ban on outdoor burning that had been established in June due to a drop in the Keetch-Byram Index of more than 200 points.

September 18 – The Colorado County Commissioners Court unanimously approved to lift a burn ban that had been in effect, but warned it could be temporary if rainfall in the near future is not sufficient.

September 18 – The Ellis County Commissioners Court voted to rescind a burn ban that had been in effect since July. In one week, several inches of rainfall that fell in the county dropped the Keetch-Byram index from over 600 to around 50, meaning the ground was very saturated.

September 19 – The decision to lift the burn ban for Brazos County was made in a Commissioner's court meeting after the several inches of recent rainfall helped saturate the soil.

September 25 – After recent rains the burn ban in Milam County has been lifted.


Monthly Change in Drought Monitor Classification

U.S. Drought Monitor, September 1, 2009
U.S. Drought Monitor, September 29, 2009

September 3 – One of the few positive effects of the intense summer drought has been relief from allergies that are usually pestering its sufferers this time of year. Experts say that it is too dry for cedar elm, fall elm, and ragweed to pollinate, leaving doctor's offices with fewer allergy-related patients this year.

September 6 – Drought-related issues have stayed at the top of the priority list for the City of Austin's agenda for some time. This includes the cutting of some of the city's oldest trees and filling Deep Eddy, the oldest pool in Texas.

September 7 – Several people who were alive during the severe drought of the 1950s say that the current drought in Victoria is just as bad, if not worse. Water use in Victoria has dropped from about 17 million gallons a day to 13 million gallons a day under Stage 2 watering restrictions.

September 14 – Although optimistic because of recent rainfall in South Central Texas, experts warn that the drought is far from being broken and that even a soggy winter might not completely do the trick. Though it has risen a foot since last week, Lake Travis is still only 40 percent full and must rise significantly before Austin stops its lawn-watering restrictions.

September 15 – Texas farmers and ranchers who have been devastated by drought or fire in Victoria can seek federal help through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's local Farm Service Agency under the provisions of three permanent disaster programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.

September 17 – Drought conditions improved more in the past week than at any time since an exceptional drought started gripping Central and South Texas several months ago. Rain falling over the southern part of the state was enough to greatly improve soil moisture, but was not enough to substantially improve extremely low water levels at lakes and reservoirs.

September 25 – According the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) the current drought situation might be more intense then the dry spell of the 1950's. The LCRA might also be asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for "special emergency relief."

September 29 – Farmers in Guadeloupe and Wilson counties are finally receiving drought assistance payments from the federal government though farmers in both counties applied for the assistance back in August. Guadeloupe and Wilson counties are considered two of the hardest hit counties in the state.

September 29 – Farmers who have suffered from the drought and have been unable to produce enough hay received some aid from other farmers in Arkansas. The hay aid is part of Operation Hay Lift was put together by several organization to bring hay to places like Victoria.


September 3 – A task force assembled across 22 Central Texas counties is expected to be running by late fall as officials become uneasy about the fire threat posed by continued drought conditions. Wildfires in 2009 have burned over 700,000 acres of land and have destroyed over a thousand structures. More than 90% of the fires have needed assistance from the Texas Forest Service in addition to local firefighters.

September 4 – With a fire risk that remains at very high levels across most of the state, Texas fire personnel were not sent to California to help battle fires.

September 9 – According to Texas officials, wildfires have burned more than 700,000 acres in Texas this year, and the fire risk remains "extraordinarily high" as areas in South Texas suffer their a severe drought. The areas at highest risk for fires are near Austin and San Antonio.

Water Supply

September 3 – The Central Texas drought has severely dried up the spring-fed Barton Creek Pool, with the springs only flowing at about 25% of their normal rates.

September 9 – Recent rains in around Mineral Wells were helpful, but only slowed the decline of Lake Palo Pinto for a couple of days. Lake Palo Pinto is nearly 12 feet under its conservation level, leaving the area under Stage 3 water restrictions since the lake is the primary water source in the area.

September 13 – A handful of competitive water speculators are banking that the water beneath Lee and surrounding counties will be enough for the populated areas of Central Texas. These entrepreneurs seek to connect the water they own to the big cities via a pipeline system likely costing hundreds of millions of dollars, a fee currently too high for the bigger cities in Central Texas.

September 13 – Cities in the Lower Valley are hesitant to ease water restrictions despite recent beneficial rainfall that has alleviated the ongoing drought. Edinburgh and Weslaco plan to continue the Stage 2 watering restrictions currently in place.

September 18 – Recent rainfall has been beneficial to areas hardest hit by drought, but much of the water that fell was sucked up by thirsty land and did not runoff into lakes and rivers. For instance, recent storms only raised the level of Lake Travis by about a foot, leaving the lake still down 50 feet and at one off its lowest levels ever.

September 22 – Though water sources in Central Texas have received a much needed boost from recent precipitation, the current water restrictions in Austin and surrounding communities are not likely to be lifted in the near future.

September 22 – A Fredericksburg family of five has the second largest single-family water tank in the country, which collects rain water and allows the family to be self-sufficient with their water usage. The tin roof on top of Majors' home and the gutters surrounding its edge collected more than 12,000 gallons of rainwater last week alone, enough to last his family for several months.

September 24 – The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) said that the magnitude of the current drought might lead tougher water rules since the past two years have been unprecedented. LCRA is moving to require its municipal and industrial customers to curtail water use earlier than called for in a state-approved drought plan.

September 24 – There is a growing concern that water conservation policies are not stringent enough to protect the livelihood of the San Marcos River. A protest is being organized to voice concern, with one such concern being the development of a gated community with manmade lakes filled with water from the San Marcos River.

September 24 – Lake Palo Pinto has risen nearly four feet since in the past couple of weeks, but the lake that serves as a water source for the city of Mineral Wells is still at less than 50 percent capacity. The lack of water in the lake is why outdoor watering restrictions have yet to be lifted.

September 29 – Some campground owners in Texas seem to be surviving through the drought while others have seen a loss in visitors and revenue because of the drought. The drought has caused many rivers to dwindle leaving camp goers no place to tube.

Agricultural Impacts


September 2 – According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the sorghum crop in the Panhandle has benefitted from above normal summer rains.

September 10 – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says that the current dry conditions in Texas are adding more stress to the state's already overburdened agricultural producers. The hot and dry conditions have caused many crops, pastures and rangelands to wither away during the growing season.

September 16 – Recent rainfall have greened up much of the struggling pastures and croplands across Texas.

September 22 – Any rain that falls between now and the beginning of the next planting season is beneficial, but is too late for the disastrous 2009 cotton crop in South Texas. The region typically produces about one million bales of cotton annually, but that was reduced to fewer than 150,000 bales this year.

September 23 – While most farmers in Texas have been trying to cope with a severe drought this past season, those in Texoma and the rest of extreme North Texas are dealing with a harvest plagued by an overabundance of precipitation.

September 23 – Cotton crops are expected to be as spotty as the summer rains were in the Rolling Plains, with farmers possibly starting to harvest in two to three weeks. The executive director of the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association expects the cotton crop across his 12-county region to be mixed bag at best.

September 28 – This year's drought has left many Texas forge resources in short supply, pushing Texas farmers to receive their hay from neighboring states.

September 28 – Although drought conditions in South Texas are making it hard for farmers and ranchers to survive these same conditions are saving lowering grocery prices.

September 29 – The cold front that hit the state on September 22 might have damaged cotton crops, but the predicted warmer weather ahead might just be a savior for the crops.


September 1 – The economic recession combined with the current drought has lowered the price of beef. The demand for beef is down due to the recession and the drought has forced many ranchers to disperse their herds since the drought has eliminated much of the forage and dried up water supplies.

September 2 – A government program called the Grassland Reserve Program is offering some hope to ranchers in South Texas devastated by the ongoing drought. Millions of dollars will be given to ranchers, with each who one accepted to the program provided a payment to sell back livestock and restock once conditions have improved.

September 3 – The ongoing drought has caused ranchers to turn to supplemental feeding with hay, which is in short supply, and others to enter into the hay-making business.

September 4 – Though still sporadic, there have been enough incidents of hay theft that law enforcement officials in Central and South Texas have begun monitoring hay fields. The problem has left people with no choice but to count their hay bales, usually reserved for the cattle the hay is mean to feed.

September 9 – A Texas AgriLife Extension Service livestock economist thinks cattle prices will continue to their seasonal lows this summer, an expected pattern as producers sell off calf crops. However, he expects cattle prices to move upward in 2010 if the current cow slaughter continues, coupled with an improved economy.

September 10 – Rains in South Central Texas are not nearly enough to end drought conditions, but agriculture experts say the rain could persuade more growers to plant winter crops. The precipitation could also give a financial break to cattle ranchers, whose dry tanks are seeing moisture for the first time in a good while.

September 18 – An expert familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of winter forages believes they play a key role in improving pastures and reducing costs for producers. Clovers are a good source of nitrogen for pastures and can improve animal performance by providing protein, but can suppress warm season grasses if not grazed.

September 19 – Recent rains in Brazoria County have helped grass to being growing again but is not nearly enough for cattle grazing. Many are sending their cattle to greener pastures up north or importing hay from surrounding states.

September 20 – Guadalupe County and the city of Seguin are optimistic that El Nino will bring plentiful rainfall to the area over the winter, but there is little that can be done to offset the financial losses caused by one of the worst droughts on record. The reduction of cattle numbers could amount to an $80 million setback locally.

Inclement Weather


September 11 – More than 10" of rainfall in Salado forced 20 families to flee their homes for the shelter of a local church. Several residents of the Hill Country have evacuated their homes due to rising water.

September 11 – The western part of El Paso was struck by heavy rains, which flooded streets and caused storeowners to use sand bags to prevent flooding.

September 12 – The Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter fleet is on standby for water rescues due to the recent heavy rainfall in areas that were in a severe long-term drought. The DPS troopers received new equipment, a chopper that is the version of an Army model, in November thanks to a homeland security grant.

September 14 – A blind East Texas woman was swept away by flood waters when attempting to cross a bridge to reach a friend's house. The drowning occurred when the woman did not realize that the water was at dangerous levels and after attempts for her rescue by Wood County workers were unsuccessful.

September 15 – A Winnsboro ISD bus driver is out of a job after allegedly telling students to get off the bus and walk home during flooding rains, after being given orders to return the students to a bus barn if conditions did not appear to be safe.

September 17 – A Greenville man was transported to the emergency room when a portion of ceiling in his apartment collapsed under the weight of several days of heavy downpours.

September 20 – Residents of the West Texas city of Anthony are upset because they believe the city government is not doing enough to prevent flooding of their homes. A massive storm that swept through recently flooded three residences, something that is all too familiar according to the occupants.

September 30 – Flooding in the Laredo area forced police and other rescue officials to rescue six motorists from a car that was trapped in flood waters. This same thunderstorm also flooded a daycare, leading to the evacuation of 90 children.


September 1 – Property in owners in "V Zones" that are susceptible to the storm surge must now have proof of flood insurance before getting coverage through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Exemptions apply to those who want to rebuild property damaged by Hurricanes Dolly or Ike if the property is meant to be restored to its previous condition.

September 5 – Following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the Entergy Texas power company has made significant strides in its notification to customers when power will be restored after an outage. This includes a "View Outages" portion of its website where customers can view outages by a specific address or street, learn the cause, and get estimates on when power will be restored.

September 6 – A new agreement between the City of Galveston and the public school district is meant to prevent people seeking shelter from storms from receiving inadequate shelter. During Hurricane Ike, hundreds of people were left sleeping on the floor and without hot food in the few days after the storm hit while staying in shelters.

September 7 – A New Orleans middle class family left with nothing four years after Hurricane Katrina has been evicted from their Houston apartment despite assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

September 8 – Hurricane Ike demolished many homes on Crystal Beach, but the sounds of hammers and electric saws fill the air as new homes are popping up everywhere, and older homes are under repair. However, a large amount of debris still remains on several properties, though 3 million cubic feet has already been removed by Galveston County.

September 8 – A clean-up crew in Southern Chambers County have found the remains of a person who may have been a victim of Hurricane Ike. The location of the body is in the same place where two bodies were found not long after the storm struck in September 2008.

September 16 – 80,000 homeowners in Galveston County must now pay a Hurricane Tax to make up for the $1.8 billion in tax revenue when Hurricane Ike wiped away 5,000 homes and severely damaged 20,000 more.

September 21 – The Texas Engineering Extension Service received a $500,000 grant to conduct a study on the impacts of Hurricane Ike in eight Texas counties. The study will last 18 months and focus on the economic impacts of Ike, with the results of the study distributed to those helping with long-term recovery of the region.

September 17 – Residents of the Galveston and Houston areas received some good news when Governor Rick Perry announced he instructed a change be made in the formula that determines how money is distributed from a federal grant. The agency's original plan used a formula based on Ike's winds, storm surge and flooding, but because the model didn't account for population, rural communities north and west of Galveston County received more of the funding.

September 23 – Hurricane Ike caused catastrophic damage to the city of Galveston but there was a small consolation for residents in the form of fruits, trees, vegetables, and flowers. The incredible storm surge deposited seeds normally in close proximity to the shore further inland and some of the seeds may actually originate from other islands.

September 26 – The Texas Gas Service is adding a hurricane recovery fee to all monthly bills to help make up for losses not covered by insurance during hurricane Ike. The monthly charge will be about an 80 cent charge to each customer.

September 26 – Galveston residents who evacuated to San Antonio over a year ago during Hurricane Ike still have not returned home.

September 27 – A dozen Brazoria residents have fallen victim to an insurance scheme after trying to file insurance claims for damages to their homes caused by hurricane Ike.

September 27 – After being set back a year because of hurricane Dolly South Padre Island's Bird and Nature Center finally opened. This center is the ninth and final part of the Rio Grande Valley's World Birding Center.

September 28 – After relocating to Dallas because of Hurricane Katrina four years ago, a former Louisiana principal has climbed her way back to the top and is now a principal in Texas.

September 29 – After being set back a year because of Hurricane Dolly, South Padre Island's Bird and Nature Center finally opened. This center is the ninth and final part of the Rio Grande Valley's World Birding Center.

September 29 – Texas spent nearly $25 million to clear the beaches and bays left debris-filled by Hurricane Ike. It was reported that crews working for the state agency recovered 124 boats

September 29 – Wrecking balls will soon be demolishing Hatton Elementary school, which suffered major damages from Hurricane Ike and must be rebuilt.

Severe Weather

September 4 – A lightning strike set fire, which eventually burned itself out, to a tank battery at Exco Production Company about two miles east of State Highway 9 near Waskom in Harrison County.

September 12 – Austin Energy reported a number of power outages throughout the area during the storms, including some in downtown Austin.

September 13 – After thunderstorms hit the North Dallas area almost 19,500 North Texas residents were left without power. A day later nearly 1,500 residents were still without power.

September 14 – According to the Murphy Fire Rescue four homes were struck by lightning in one night. Two homes did not catch fire while the other two did. One home had minor damages and the other home was burnt to the ground.

September 16 – More than 6,800 insurance claims were filed the day after violent hailstorm in the El Paso area, with Socorro ISD alone reporting damage to 14 schools and 30 buses.

September 17 – El Paso automobile body repair shops were flooded with damaged cars resulting from an intense hail storm that dropped golf ball size hail earlier in the week.

September 20 – El Paso car dealerships were left with numerous damaged automobiles after the massive hail storm that recently moved through the area. These dealerships have few other options but to sell the damaged cars at a fraction of their previous cost while waiting for insurance companies to repair the cars.

September 23 – The damage estimate from last week's hail storm in El Paso has hit the $150 million mark, making it the most expensive hail storm ever to hit the region.

September 25 – A pilot was killed when his single-engine aircraft crashed into a Central Texas house while preparing to land at a small landing strip. The plane was circling a runway waiting for the landing strip lights to be turned on manually because of damage caused by a recent storm.

September 28 – In Galveston County a section of roof on a laundromat collapsed after two inches of rain fell. No one was injured but authorities believe the roof collapsed under the weight of the rain.

Other Climate Impacts

Air/Water Quality

September 22 – Every time it rains in Bexar County, the level of disease-causing bacteria in the San Antonio River spikes. In fact, the state advises no contact with the river at all as it flows through San Antonio because it carries E. coli bacteria and other diseases in addition to pollutants.

Animals/Aquatic Life

September 2 – Hurricane Ike stranded a wild bottlenose dolphin, later named Toby, on a Texas beach off the coast of Corpus Christi. Toby had been recovering at Moody Gardens in Galveston after being rescued by the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and is now living at a park in the Florida Keys.

September 5 – Fire ant activity is down this year in South Texas due to the drought, but experts warn that these pests will move back toward the surface when an area receives sufficient rainfall. The second week of September was officially designated as Fire Ant Awareness Week more than 10 years ago.

September 8 – The city of Flower Mound's testing of mosquitoes revealed the first positive case of West Nile virus. The number of cases in the area has been reduced, with no human contraction of the virus, because of the below normal summer rainfall.

September 10 – Scientists have grown concerned over the presence of crazy ants in San Antonio despite a prolonged drought, conditions which normally do not see these pests.

September 21 – Although the rain in Central Texas has had many positive effects, one that is certainly negative is a likely rise in the mosquito population. 13 cases of mosquitoes carrying a virus in Austin were found in 2008, but none have been found so far this year.

September 24 – Managers at El Paso Storm Water Utility say illegal dumping is a big problem and could have an impact on the severity of flooding during periods of heavy rainfall.


September 4 – South Texas high school football fans that have been frustrated by an ongoing drought were further frustrated by storms that brought much needed rain. The source of their frustration was not the rain, but the accompanying lightning, which cancelled games for the second straight week.

September 12 – Due to heavy rains in the College Station area, the Texas A&M Invitational was cancelled due to unsuitable course conditions. This marked the second straight year of cancellation, with last year's tournament coinciding with the landfall of Hurricane Ike.

September 13 – The Texas State Mid-Amateur Golf Championship had to postpone Friday's first round of play because of rain. By Saturday golfers were able to make up the first round but unable to finish the second round due to more rain.


September 1 – The extreme drought and heat is taking its toll on the trees of Central Texas, even those species that are normally resistant to these conditions. The city of Austin has reported the loss of hundreds of trees, including around 50 that are planned to be cut down in Zilker Park.

September 6 – A Waco woman is facing foreclosure on the $81,000 brick home she bought three years ago because she has fallen behind on her flood insurance payments. Last September FEMA reclassified her area to be in the 100-year flood plain, which means it has a 1 percent chance of flooding in a given year.

September 11 – The drought conditions since September of last year have left South Texas forage resources in short supply, with one recommendation for improvement to overseed warm season pastures with cool season forage.

September 19 – Although rainfall has become more plentiful recently, the South Texas landscape is still a reminder that drought will continue to be an issue with certain types of trees.

September 20 – Roofing contractors have seen a significant increase in business recently due to storms that have hit Central Texas. A long-term drought meant a drought in the business of roofing repairs, but customers needing repairs to roof shingles, gutters, and leaks have started pouring in to the contractors.

September 21 – Rain lilies have been absent during the drought, but thanks to the recent rain, they have returned in abundance in areas where they grow. Rain lilies originate from underground bulbs that store water and nutrients that allow the flowers to survive a prolonged drought.

September 25 – Recent rains have been beneficial for foliage, but another beneficiary has yet reap the benefits of the increased moisture: spring wildflowers.

September 27 – The recent rains in South Texas arrived just in time to ensure bluebonnet season will happen and save many dying trees.

September 28 – More than 500 trees are being removed from parts of Galveston because of Hurricane Ike. Most of the wood from the 501 trees will be available to the public and re-plant is expected to start next week.


September 1 – Because the dry summer conditions have ruined several crops that doves eat such as wheat and corn, drought-tolerant species such as ragweed and sunflowers are more likely to attract doves. Also, a lack of August rainfall before the start of dove season (Sept. 1) means that doves will be more concentrated in the fewer available water sources.

September 7 – A frustrating boating season at Lake Travis came to a close with owners hoping for plentiful rainfall in the offseason and better weather next summer. A local boat renter said business was only down about 20 percent compared to the same time last year, which is not too shabby with a 50% drop in lake levels.

September 2 – A cooler than normal August to the North combined has provided optimism for the upcoming teal duck season that runs this month from the 12th through the 27th. However, the dry conditions in most of Texas brings is accompanied by pessimism since the ducks rely upon food and water sources that have been drained.

September 14 – According to the San Antonio Express-News kayakers in Texas are taking advantage of the swelled Guadalupe River. After the rains over the past few days the river has gained some speed and kayaking enthusiasts are hitting the water.

September 16 – Weekend rainfall put a damper on the second weekend of dove hunting in Central Texas. Brownwood fields that were the best seen in years before rainfall arrived went from being completely stocked full of doves to a muddy mess with birds few and far between.

September 19 – Wet weather saw a significant decrease in the amount vendors sold, in particular ice cream and sodas, during the first weekend of the West Texas Fair and Rodeo. Attendance to the fair was also down, with many considering the $7 ticket price too much to experience the fair in wet conditions.

September 21 – Catfish fisherman in Northeast Texas have been delighted by the heavy rainfall that has caused area lakes, rivers, and streams to rise in their levels. The rising water floods crayfish holes and causes the crayfish to the surface, where catfish are more than willing to make a meal out of it.

September 27 – Recent rains have deer season looking good for hunters. Hunters are a little worried that in some parts of the state the drought has killed off some of the vegetation used as food and lowered fawn survival rates but over all hunters are ready for the opening of the season.


September 7 – Police believe rain may have been a factor when an 18-year old male hit an elderly woman with his car in El Paso. The woman, who was using a walker and had a prosthetic leg, was in stable condition at University Medical Center.

September 10 – Several roads in New Braunfels and Comal County were closed due to inclement weather. In addition, a car was trapped in high water along I-35, one of several accidents reported along the highway.

September 11 – Heavy rains on Friday forced officials to shut down a 5-mile stretch of Interstate 35 in northern Williamson County for nearly two hours. Seven vehicles were washed away by flood water as the Salado Creek overflowed its banks.

September 15 – A Mexia man driving west on Highway 84 about two miles east of his hometown was killed when his pickup hydroplaned and struck three other trucks. Heavy rain was falling at the time of the accident, and another man was treated and later released from Parkview Regional Hospital.

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