The drought may be over in California, but the biggest concern now is the southern tier of the country. Texas is the hardest hit area, where almost half the state is under an extreme drought. State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon
says it began with the driest winter since the late ’60s.
“The latest U.S. Drought Monitor just introduced their highest category, which is exceptional drought. And it’s inhibiting planting, their cattle are being off, and the next couple of months are going to be critical for how the agricultural community gets through the year.”
Normally, winter is the dry season in Texas, but Nielsen-Gammon says it’s usually not this dry. He says the extreme dryness during the past several months and an abundance of vegetation that grew last winter and early spring have combined to create an active wildfire season.
“Usually we’ve had rain starting in April, but we haven’t had that either. Unfortunately, the spring is the windiest time of year for Texas, and we’re gonna be on high alert for fire danger until we get one or two soaking rains, and get some moisture in the ground.”
The lack of heavy rain has impacted the wildflower seaon, including bluebonnets. Barring surprise heavy rainfall this spring, Nielsen-Gammon says the drought could remain with us until tropical moisture surges into the coastal area.
“I don’t see any silver linings, other than keeping the mosquito population down. That’s about it.”