The weekly drought monitor was released this morning for Texas. As expected there were minor reductions in drought intensities in areas that received heavy rain last week. While there were some minor improvements the overall short-term situation has deteriorated as numerous grass fires have been reported this week. The hot temperatures have quickly dried out plants and surface vegetation. With several more days of summer heat expected the danger of large grass fires will continue to increase. The long-term drought continues across the Southern Plains even with the benefitial rains seen over the past two months.
Here is the analysis for the drought monitor from the Drought Mitigation Center for this week.
Heavy rain swept across Oklahoma and environs on July 30-31, resulting in modest reductions in drought intensity and coverage. A stripe of 2- to 6-inch rainfall totals stretched across southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, central and eastern Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas, with official, 2-day totals reaching 5.18 inches in McAlester, Oklahoma; 4.02 inches in Paris, Texas; and 2.18 inches in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. Oklahoma’s topsoil moisture was rated 36% very short to short on August 3, an improvement from 47% the previous week. However, the effects of a multi-year drought were still apparent in the fact that, on August 3, subsoil moisture was rated 59% very short to short in Oklahoma, along with 52% in both Colorado and Kansas.
Aside from some heavy showers in northern and eastern Texas, significant rainfall largely bypassed the Lone Star State in late July and early August. As a result, both topsoil and subsoil moisture was rated 67% very short to short on August 3, according to USDA. Several degradations in the drought depiction were introduced in Texas, while USDA reported that rangeland and pasture “conditions began to deteriorate in areas of Edwards Plateau due to dry weather.” In addition, some producers in southern Texas “began to provide supplemental feed.”
There are currently 61 counties in Texas under a outdoor burn ban due to the ongoing drought and elevated fire danger conditions. Those not under burn bans should use extreme caution when using open flame or burning outdoors. Even though some have received rain recently the hot weather has caused surface moisture to quickly dry out promoting the danger for fast-moving grass fires.