Flash drought conditions expanded in both severity and scope over the past week. The newly released drought monitor now places much of Northeast Texas, East Texas, Southeast Texas, North Texas, Central Texas, and the Brazos Valley back in official drought conditions. Severe drought is underway across Northeast Texas southwest into the Brazos Valley. The record rains in May combined with a very dry July has resulted in an overgrowth of surface fuels that are now dormant. Abundant dormant fuel is gasoline to wildfire production and we have seen a marked increase in grass fire calls. Over 100 counties in Texas are under burn bans and more counties are being added daily.
From the National Drought Mitigation Center: Short term dryness has caused expansion of drought across much of Texas and eastern Oklahoma. Warmer-than-normal temperatures have exasperated the situation. In Oklahoma, it was reported that soil moisture levels were approaching lows that we had not seen since August 2012. Drought was expanded in the southeast corner of Oklahoma and introduced in the northern part. Elsewhere, temperatures were 2-4 degrees above normal this past week in much of Texas. Drought conditions were expanded in much of east central Texas while a portion of southern Texas continued its drought free status.
The one bit of good news is this data is from Tuesday. We’ve seen a little bit of rain since that point. Flash flooding is ongoing around Galveston where severe drought conditions exist. I do not expect that to be the case this time next week as several inches of rain has fallen. We anticipate El Nino to bring a fairly wet winter with those impacts starting up later in fall.