The rains of recent weeks have certainly been welcomed by all and helped to turn the grass green. As the dog days of summer set in and the temperature rises to above record levels, the increased vegetation could pose a fire hazard.
If the rainfall and moisture levels drop significantly going into the winter months, once the vegetation dies back for winter, it could mean a significant fire threat, many emergency managers are concerned about a repeat of the 2011 wild fire season. 2011 was one of the state’s driest year on record — wildfires scorched more than 3 million acres in Texas, making it the worst fire season in state history.
There has been significant talk of an El Nino weather pattern develping. If that materializes, it could translate into additional rain for this area. An El Nino weather pattern, happens every few years and is marked by warmer water in the Pacific Ocean.
Before the recent rains, most locations on the south plains had only received an inch or less. To date, this year, most of the south plains is showing an average of 8-9 inches of rain, most of that occurring over Memorial Day weekend. According to the National Weather Service, Lubbock office this area is at its normal rainfall amount for the year.
Drought maps released by the Texas AgriLife Extension office show the state and the region were significantly drier just a month ago. Looking at the longer-term drought, we need to make up over 20 inches of rain to be at our long term average rainfall amount.