The weekly Drought Monitor update came out yesterday and there’s a little good news, but still mainly bad news. First of all, the good news: the percentage of Texas under the worst category exceptional drought dropped from the week before.
The bad news is that all of Texas is still officially in drought. This gives you an idea of how severe this drought is. Now when you look at the past weekend’s rainfall map, you can see the areas that saw nearly 8″ of rain also saw the biggest improvement in drought severity.
But we would still need to see another 8-10″ of rain even in those places from Eastland to Breckenridge in the next month to climb out of drought, and that’s not going to happen. The rest of North Texas would still need to see at least 15″ of rain to end the drought during the next few weeks…again, highly unlikely.
I spoke with a representative with the Texas Forest Service yesterday who reminded me that even though the grass has greened up a bit, it doesn’t mean that our fire danger has gone away. Grasses are known as a “one hour fuel”…meaning that in just 60 minutes grass can take in a bunch of moisture and in just 60 minutes can lose all of that moisture. This means that it does not take long at all for our grasses and weeds to become tinder box fuel for new wildfires, especially with many warm, dry days in the forecast this weekend.
Here’s the accompanied summary of the this week’s drought conditions in the southern U.S:
Southern Great Plains: Significant rains (0.75 inch to over 7.0 inches) fell across an area from Kansas to central Texas. One category improvements were made across central Kansas and Oklahoma, with isolated areas of 2-category improvements across Texas. Some areas received very little rain so the improvements were minimal in spatial extent.
Across Oklahoma, only Great Salt Plains Lake and Arcadia Lake showed any appreciable response to wide swatch of 3-5 inches of rain. Most of the rain was absorbed locally, with locations across the panhandle and farther east receiving little rain.
Lubbock received 0.16 inch and now has deficits of 13.10 inches (normal is 16.26 inches for the year). ). Childress reported over 1.5 inches but continues to have a deficit of nearly 14 inches. Aspermont, TX, in Stonewall County, received over 2.75 inches. A few of the West Texas Mesonet sites had modest soil moisture in the upper part of the profile, but of the rainfall was absorbed by the soil and did not contribute to significant run-off to recharge streams and lakes. The biggest beneficiaries to this week’s rains would be pastures, ranges, and winter wheat.