High temperatures and a lack of rain have created a state-wide drought in Texas, with more than four-fifths of the state in the worst drought stage, according to a report issued on Thursday.
The U.S. Drought Monitor released a map of Texas that showed 81.08 percent of the state in exceptional drought, The Associated Press reports. This is the 11th year the federal government and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have produced the map, and it’s repeatedly set records since early May for most land at “D4,” the most severe drought level.
According to the AP:
Most Texas cities have suffered triple-digit heat for weeks during the worst single-year drought on record. Wichita Falls entered Thursday with 95 days over 100 degrees this year. San Angelo has had 93. Both are records.
Texas averaged under an inch of rain in July, the hottest month ever.
This is the state’s most severe drought since the 1950s, and it has created optimal conditions for wildfires, the AP reports. Wildfires have burned nearly 5,500 square miles since the start of wildfire season in mid-November last year.
The latest wildfire, in the Possum Kingdom Lake area west of Fort Worth, has burned 6,200 to 6,500 acres of land and destroyed at least 39 homes since it began two days ago.
Texas Forest Service officials said the blaze was 50 percent contained on Thursday, the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports. Residents evacuated from 160 homes yesterday were permitted to return.
Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that power and water service could be disrupted in those areas for some time, but he hoped tourists would still visit other areas of the lake over the Labor Day weekend. "The lake's still open," he said. "Several of the subdivisions are still open."
The drought is expected to last through at least November.