By Ernie Williamson
I hate to bring this up since we have enough to fret about already.
But have you noticed the drought conditions in the state and what is going on with the water crisis in the West?
I mean we have a war in Europe, a volatile stock market and a pandemic. Who needs a drought, right?
It is always risky to write about the weather in Texas. You can write about the drought one day, and the next day if floods.
But it is hard to ignore the smothering heat the state suffered over the Mother’s Day weekend, even for weather-hardened Texans.
Notable records were set in Abilene, Del Rio and San Angelo (107 degrees); Childress (106 degrees); Lubbock (102 degrees); and San Antonio and Amarillo (101 degrees).
And that was just in the beginning of May. That is the earliest Amarillo and San Antonio have ever reached the century mark.
It makes me wonder what the rest of the year and the future will hold.
There are some ominous long and short-term signs.
Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon predicts the number of triple-digit temperatures experienced by the average Texan will double by 2036.
And what about this summer?
Texas weather experts say this year is reminiscent of the blast furnace year of 2011. That year was marked by triple-digit heat, drought and historic wildfires that lasted until fall.
Fortunately, there has been one major difference between 2011 and 2022: In 2011, the drought was statewide. So far this year, large areas of East and Northeast Texas have had sizeable amounts of rain and escaped serious drought conditions.
As of this writing, most of us in Brazoria County have avoided the worst of it. But it’s early yet.
As of mid-May, we are 5.01 inches below normal for rainfall, but that is only the 22nd driest year from January through April in the past 128 years.
Even so, 98 percent of the county is under “severe” drought conditions, the third-highest of five drought categories used by the U.S Drought Monitor.
Our neighbors in much of Matagorda County are suffering from “extreme” drought, the fourth-highest category.
Conditions are much worse in large portions of the state. The area of the state impacted by “exceptional” drought (the most extreme level) has climbed to 23 percent, the largest value in eight years.
All this pales in comparison to what is happening in some Western states. I hope what is going on in California and Nevada isn’t portending our future.
Southern California has adopted unprecedented water conservation measures to cope with drought.
According to the Washington Post, major reservoirs are at record lows and farming regions are unable to irrigate, leaving fields fallow. Wildfires are burning homes.
The drought’s next target: lawns. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has announced that 6 million people in its service area will have to limit irrigation to one day a week, the most severe cutbacks in its history.
“It’s O.K. to have your lawn yellow,” said Adel Hagekhalil, the district’s general manager.
Things are just as bad in Las Vegas.
Under a state law passed last year, “nonfunctional” grass that serves only an aesthetic purpose must be torn up. This is the first law of its kind passed in the nation. Water cops will patrol Las Vegas streets watching for wasted water.
This dramatic effort to conserve water has been made necessary because the region depends on Lake Mead for water.
According to the New York Times, that lake has been shrinking since 2000 and is now so low the original water intake has been exposed.
We can only hope that what is happening in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.
(Please contact Ernie at email@example.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)