5 things to know about the Texas drought: wildfires, relief and more

Most of the state of Texas is experiencing some level of drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 95.7% of the state is “abnormally dry,” which may cause planting to be postponed and an increased risk of grass fires.

Here are five things to know about the Texas drought.

Two-fifths of the state is in ‘extreme drought’

Just over 40% of Texas is experiencing “extreme drought” or higher designation, according to the US Drought Monitor. This level of drought can lead to sand and dust storms, lower crop yields and an increased need for additional feed, nutrients, protein and water for livestock.

Additionally, 6.2% of the state is in “exceptional drought,” which includes conditions comparatively worse than extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Unusual drought conditions can lead to widespread crop losses, significant financial losses in various industries and “extreme sensitivity” to fire danger, according to the US Drought Monitor.

Drought affects millions of Texans

About 18,057,500 Texans are affected by drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor. It is more than three out of five Texans who are affected by the drought out of the approximately 29.1 million Texans, according to data from the American census.

There are 169 of the 254 counties in Texas with a disaster designation by the US Department of Agriculture, according to the US Drought Monitor. Disaster designations allow counties to access various relief efforts, including emergency loans and assistance programs, according to the USDA.

Droughts affect people across the United States

Texas isn’t the only state facing drought conditions. Just over 58% of the nation is at least abnormally dry, according to the US Drought Monitor, with 14.3% experiencing extreme drought and 1.6% experiencing exceptional drought.

Other states with high levels of drought include California, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oklahoma, according to the drought map.

Droughts cause wildfires in Texas

According to the Texas Wildfire Incident Response Team, there are 53 active wildfires in Texas burning over approximately 237,227 acres in the state. The largest fire, involving 60,000 acres, is in southern Texas at Borrega.

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, droughts can be a contributing factor to wildfires.

Ways to prevent forest fires

As drought conditions continue, and with them the risk of wildfires, there are ways Texans can reduce the risk of new fires. According to Texas Division of Emergency ManagementTexans should avoid driving in tall grass, keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and follow the advice of local officials.

As of March 30, there were high to critical fire weather conditions in the Panhandle, Southern Plains, Border Region, South Texas, Central Texas and Coastal Texas.

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