By Mike Barnett
Blessed rains fell over much of the state this week, but Texas is still in hot water in terms of drought and water resources.
Rains statewide—which ranged from a trace up to 6-8 inches in parts of Central and West Central Texas—were a short-term fix for Texas farmers and ranchers. Hot temperatures are forecast to return this week, and two to three weeks without rain could pretty much put us back where we started.
I talked to Mark Fox, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, this morning and he said the rains might drop the severity of the dry weather a notch or two on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The fact remains that data collected on July 16 showed that 99.7 percent of the state was in drought. Seventy-one percent was in severe to exceptional drought.
Statewide, reservoir capacity stands at 64 percent, with many West Texas reservoirs at perilous levels. That was changed very little by the weather event this week because of the slow, soaking nature of the rains. Many Texas cities still face the prospect of running out of water.
Although much appreciated, the recent rains put only a small dent in Texas’ water problems. We still need to conserve our resources. We need to search for and research new water sources. We need to support a constitutional amendment due in November that will provide funds for projects in the state water plan.
Most of all, we need more rain and lots of it. Fox said Texas needs a tropical system to come in at Brownsville and slowly trek northwest. That system needs to park itself in West Texas around Abilene and rain, rain, rain.
Chances are better than average for storm systems to form in the Gulf sometime between now and October, some weather experts say.
I pray they are right—but that it comes without the destruction of a massive hurricane.