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Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 06/30/2011

Texas drought a disaster, while Arlene drenches southern tip

Tropical storm Arlene comes ashore south of Tampico, Mexico at 5 a.m. this morning with maximum winds to 65 mph. (NOAA)
Finally a little good news for drought-plagued Texas: when tropical storm Arlene struck northeastern Mexico early this morning, it brought ashore vast amounts of deep, tropical moisture. A very large tropical storm, Arlene’s outer rain bands stretched into extreme south Texas, providing desperately needed rain. If only it could have extended its reach into the rest of the drought-stricken state, recently declared a disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

How bad is the drought in Texas?

NPR reported yesterday (h/t Joe Romm):

In Austin, they’re praying for a hurricane, a nice slow moving category one or two, or a tropical storm, that makes its way up to Austin and then stalls out over the Texas hill country.

Arlene would have been just the answer had it tracked a bit further north.

Drought in Texas as of June 28. (U.S. Drought Monitor)
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows much of Texas (70 percent) covered in exceptional drought and NOAA predicts the drought will persist through the summer in many areas.

The toll the drought has taken on farmers prompted the USDA to designate 213 Texas counties as disaster areas (making farmers eligibile for Federal loans), while the remaining 41 adjacent counties qualify for assistance. The Houston Chronicle quotes an official on the Governor’s Drought Preparedness Council projecting losses to exceed $4.1 billion.

Other stunning facts about the drought from various sources:

* Burn bans are in place in 236 of the state’s 254 counties (Texas Forest Service, map)

* 213 counties in Texas have lost at least 30 percent of their crops or pasture due to the drought and wildfires (KCBD, Lubbock)

* 168 water suppliers have imposed voluntary water use restrictions and 184 have mandatory restrictions (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, map)

Doppler indicated rainfall over last 24 hours in Brownsville, Texas. Yellow coloring indicates at least 2.5 inches or rain. (National Weather Service)
* Local fire departments have responded to about 1500 wildfires, which have damaged 2.5 million acres of land. (Texas Tribune, see interactive map )

* Scores of daily record highs and several all-time record highs have been set across the state. Childress, Texas tied its all-time record high of 117, and Amarillo set a new all-time high of 111. (CapitalClimate)

But, today, the news is good down south in Brownsville, where National Weather Service doppler radar indicates about 3 inches of rain has fallen and it’s still coming down. Areas receiving more than 0.5” of rain, however, cutoff just to the south of Corpus Christi. So much of Texas remains in the grips of its worst drought on record with little relief in sight.

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 06/30/2011

Categories:  U.S. Weather, Latest, Tropical Weather

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