Drought conditions worsen in Texas, disaster declaration issued for several counties

Wildfire threat also increasing

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SAN ANTONIO – Despite a few welcome rain showers over this past weekend, South Texas continues to see drought conditions grow.  

As of Monday, much of Bexar County is rated as "abnormally dry," meaning San Antonio sits on the edge of drought conditions. 

Meantime, parts of the area are facing moderate, severe and even extreme drought. One of the hardest hit areas is Webb County, which sits along the Texas-Mexico border. The Texas Panhandle is also seeing areas with extreme drought. 

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On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a state of disaster in Duval, Hall, Jim Hogg, Randall, Swisher, Webb, and Zapata Counties. Rainfall has been hard to come by for much of the state in August. As a result, wildfire activity has been on the increase. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, 90% of wildfires are caused by humans. The most common human-caused wildfires in 2019 have been from debris burning and equipment use. 

Burn bans, which are determined by county judges and commissioners, are in effect for many counties in Texas, including Bexar.

Residents are encouraged to follow these recommendations to help prevent wildfires:

Safe Equipment Use:
•    Grinders, welders, mowers, shredders, balers and other heavy equipment all produce heat and             have the potential to start a wildfire.
•    Exercise caution when using equipment on hot, dry, and windy days.
•    Keep the machinery free of debris build up and in good repair. Always keep a fire extinguisher               nearby in case a fire starts.
•    Residents should avoid driving in tall, dry grass where the hot catalytic converter can start wildfires –     catalytic converters operate between 550-1600° F and can reach 2000° F if the engine is not                 running properly. 
 

Safe Debris Burning:
•    Before burning, check with officials to make sure your county is not under a burn ban.
•    Choose a day to burn with winds under 10 mph and high relative humidity for your area.
•    Keep the debris pile small and only add more material as it burns down. Clear the area around the         pile down to mineral soil.
•    Always stay with your fire and have equipment on hand in case it gets out of the designated area.
 


About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.