With 81% of state under drought, several Southeast Texas counties impose burn bans

The U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday morning includes rainfall through Tuesday, June 21. 

Changes were thankfully minimal, with movement of less than 1.5% across most categories.

Last week, 79.97% of Texas was experiencing a drought of some kind, with 42.47% in category Extreme or above.

This week, 81.18% of Texas is experiencing at least moderate drought, 43.83% in category Extreme or above. Certainly not the direction we want to be going in, hence the initiation of Stage One Drought Response by Houston officials. 

READ MORE: City of Houston enters Stage 1 of drought contingency plan

Multiple types of drought monitors exist.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index is a statistical measure of fire danger. In the map graphic below, you can see southeast Texas is in the second-highest category.

So, there are no surprises that so many burn bans are being imposed locally and statewide.

Of the 254 counties in Texas, 160 currently have burn bans in place. You could drive on I-10 from Fort Bend County to El Paso and never once leave the burn ban.

Burn ban regulations differ per county, so check with your local officials to see what restrictions apply to you. 

In general, outdoor flame of any kind is discouraged. Please be extremely careful with cigarette butts, fireworks and grills especially leading up to the July 4th holiday.

(Note: Brazoria County has also now issued a burn ban.)

Moving forward, NOAA forecasts the drought to persist in our southern counties where severe to extreme drought is already in place. It's also forecast to develop to the north, where only abnormally dry or moderate drought is being experienced at the moment.

The thing about droughts is that they are particularly difficult to get out of, and replenishing the water supply is a slow process.

So looking solely at the rainfall deficits does not always paint the bigger picture in terms of how much rain would be needed to comfortably exit the drought.

Take the below examples of our three climate reporting sites versus the 15+ inches of rain needed to completely end the drought across southeast Texas.

While we certainly don’t have 15" of rain on the way from any one system any time soon, there is some relief on the horizon.

A summer cool front looks to arrive in southeast Texas on Monday and could potentially stall and linger through midweek. This would bring us multiple days of cooler temperatures, and more promising daily rainfall chances.