Message From The Chief
Most Texans are all too familiar with the adage about Texas weather. It can fluctuate to extreme degrees, sometimes very quickly. So, how do you go about ending a drought in Texas? By enduring several weeks of record-breaking severe weather and unrelenting rain, of course!
Some Good News
Last May, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that 91 percent of Texas was in some level of drought, with almost 40 percent experiencing at least extreme drought. This May, 70 percent of the state is considered drought free. For the first time since 2011, no part of Texas is under extreme or exceptional drought levels.
Texas lakes and reservoirs are on the rise. This time last year, Texas’ reservoir water supply was only 65.5 percent full and falling. Now it’s over 81 percent full and rising. Many reservoirs released water to control flooding. And, except for far west Texas and the tip of the Rio Grande Valley, the wildfire danger across Texas is low. But all that rain comes with a price.
After a quiet start to spring, the frequency and intensity of severe weather in the U.S. began to increase toward the end of April. Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and other Plains states had already experienced significant inclement weather, including tornadoes, damaging wind, heavy rain and hail. It was clear that the severe weather was heading to Texas. Anticipating potentially widespread severe weather developing in Texas, we activated the State Operations Center on May 8 and began deploying assets around the state. It remained activated 24/7 through June 5.
As the storms began, heavy rainfall, accompanied by deadly tornadoes and strong winds, caused widespread damage. And it kept coming. It was raining almost everywhere and in record amounts, and the once drought-stricken ground quickly became saturated. Over most of the state, massive flooding became the predominate issue. Then record breaking storms broke out in Central Texas, spreading north and east of the I-35 corridor and across southeast Texas to the Gulf, causing widespread damage and, sadly, loss of life. By May’s end, many people were still unaccounted for and vast areas of Texas had seen extreme amounts rainfall over short periods of time.
As this severe weather outbreak begins to wind down, many Texas communities large and small are dealing with recovering and rebuilding. And now hurricane season is beginning.
With powerful storm surge, high winds, tornadoes and flooding, hurricanes could potentially devastate already heavily affected coastal areas as well as severely impacted inland areas.
Thousands of individuals in local, state and federal agencies, as well as members from voluntary organizations and the private sector have been committed to keeping Texans safe during these storms and helping them to recover following this unprecedented May weather. They are equally committed and ready if tropical storms threaten our coastal areas this hurricane season. You can help by taking the time now to assess your family’s and your community’s preparedness for these potentially dangerous storms.
Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM® TEM
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter
Texans continue to needlessly risk their lives and the lives of first responders by attempting to drive through flooded roads.
Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than any other severe weather hazard. Over half of all flood-related deaths occur in vehicles driven into flood water.
Don’t drive through moving water, and DON’T drive around warnings or barriers!