Texas Drought Reveals Lost Pieces of History…Among Other Things

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Climatologically speaking, this is the second worst drought the city of Houston has ever seen. The previous record is 17.79 inches for the year and as of right now, we’ve received 19.57 inches (this isn’t including today’s rainfall totals, which could be between 0.5-1.00 inch across some areas). In a 12-month period from October 2010 through September 2011, Texas has been the driest it’s been since 1885. And the little rainfall we did have in October and so far in November hasn’t helped a whole lot as far as the overall picture. Here in Houston we are still in an Exceptional Drought, which is the worst drought category, and we’re still about 30 inches below average in terms of rainfall.

Climatologists aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the ongoing drought; among others it’s also attracting the attention of historians (and unfortunately, looters). If you’ve been to a Texas lake recently, you can tell right off the bat how much they’ve suffered due to the drought as lake levels continue receding on almost a daily basis. And with the lower lake levels, history has been uncovered; anything from ancient tools to prehistoric skulls to graves once underwater. As of this morning, Lake Buchanan, for example, is about 29.43 feet (988.57 ft msl) below its historic November average of 1,018.00 ft msl and Lake Travis is 54.75 feet below average.

 Here’s a grave site belonging to a young child that was once underwater before Lake Buchanan’s water levels receded due to the ongoing drought. Photo: AP

 

The drought is to blame for the receding lake levels among other things. Image: U.S. Drought Monitor

Wildfires this summer also wreaked havoc in Texas, specifically in Bastrop County beginning on September 4th. It was a series of major wildfires that destroyed 1,645 homes, which made it the most destructive single wildfire in Texas history. It was estimated that the wildfires did over $250 million dollars worth of damages and unfortunately, two people lost their lives. The Bastrop wildfire was finally declared contained on October 10th.

 Here’s a photo of the wildfire smoke near Bastrop rising over Texas State Highway 21. Photo: Wikipedia

Experts believe the South-Central U.S. Drought will be possible through next spring if not much longer. Here’s why. And December certainly doesn’t look promising in terms of rain as below normal precipitation is expected for most of the Deep South and along the Gulf Coast from East Texas to the Carolinas and Florida.

 Precipitation Outlook for December 2011. Image: StormWatch

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