Drought has been overshadowed as severe heat draws environmental focus. However, some regions face such extreme water shortages that trees perish prematurely, farm animals and crops are endangered, and lake levels drop. Central Texas suffers the worst of these drought conditions.
The U.S. Drought Monitor measures drought nationwide, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. It uses six classifications from “no drought” to “exceptional drought.” Central Texas falls into the worst “exceptional drought” category.
Central Texas has long been home to high temperatures and drought. The populations of large cities in the region have been particularly affected. These include the massive metro areas of Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. Together, these metros have a total population of nearly 20 million people
The region has endured over 100F temperatures for the past week, expected to persist longer.
The current drought severity is unusual. Houston, the most populous city in the state and the fourth largest city in the U.S., has 100 days of rain per year on average. This has dropped considerably, in part because of heat. According to Houston Public Media, “Extreme heat has caused drought conditions in some parts of the Houston region.” These are 20 U.S. counties engulfed in record drought tight now.
The long term question the drought raises is whether parts of Texas will be habitable in a decade. Phoenix, Arizona, which suffers from experienced drought conditions that are even worse, has reached the point where residential home building is not possible in some areas. After a torrid growth rate in population, Phoenix may no longer be a destination for Americans who want to relocate to places with warmer weather.
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