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The Texas Drought


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Not a cloud

Aug 13th 2009 | AUSTIN

From The Economist print edition

The state is staggering through its worst drought for half a century

Crops are dying. Throughout central and southern Texas swimmers are being turned away from lakes and pools: the dwindling water supply is for drinking, not splashing around in. In San Antonio people are under strict orders to curb their water use, and if you see your neighbours watering the lawn you are supposed to report them to the police. One town resorted to a prayer service; it got 0.03 inches (0.8mm). In June and July Austin hit triple-digit temperatures on 39 days.

Texas’s summer has been unusually hot and dry, and punishingly so. According to the state Department of Agriculture, 77 of Texas’s 254 counties are experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions, the worst category going. The swathe spans roughly one-fifth of the state, an area larger than Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut combined.



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I drove through San Antonio a few weeks ago on my way to Lubbock. There was so much dust flying around in the air in San Antonio, I thought I was in Lubbock already. It's hard to imagine how dry it is there until you actually see it in person.

You oughta see how dusty it is in the areas between about Corpus Christi and Kingsville. In the vicinity of Chapman Ranch, back in May, airborne dust limited my visibility to probably about 1/4-mile in places, and about 3/4-mile generally.

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I don't spend all that much time out on the highways around Bastrop, but I rarely fail to see at least one or two 18-wheelers loaded to the gills with round bales of hay, heading down 304 from 71 toward Gonzales and parts beyond. The strange part is most of it is coming from around the Waco area. It's weird how they have gotten drenched while those of us just a little south of there are so dry.

Bastrop is finally getting rain, and there are high chances for the rest of the week. I pray for the sake of the farmers and ranchers this gawdawful drought is over.

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