Despite Some Welcome Rain, Panhandle Drought Conditions Continue

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelFebruary 23, 2018 10:57 am,

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The National Weather Service in Amarillo told those traveling in parts of the Panhandle Wednesday morning to use caution due to possible freezing rain. Though this is clearly a hazard, there is a bit of a silver lining to those clouds.

Amarillo is finally getting some precipitation, or as meteorologist Aaron Ward calls it: “precip.”

“We hadn’t received any measureable ‘precip’ since October 12 of the previous year,” says Ward. “I think at that point it had been 125 full days that we did not receive precipitation.”

That dry streak was actually broken this past weekend on February 17 when .01 inches of rain fell, according to a National Weather Service Amarillo Facebook post.

“And that .01 that we received it’s not really going to do too much for us as far as the dry conditions go,” says Ward. “We’re still very dry – the drought conditions are ongoing.”

In fact, a map from the U.S. Drought Monitor out Thursday shows the entire Texas Panhandle is experiencing either severe or extreme drought. Still, between the sprinkling of rain at the end of last week and some freezing drizzle Thursday, Ward says the weather patterns seem to be changing.

“La Nina is weakening and going into more of a neutral pattern so all those things point to the possibility of maybe seeing a little bit more rain over the next month or two, maybe at least getting more than we received in the last four months, so we’ll cross our fingers and hope.”

The National Weather Service Amarillo says before this recent 100-plus-day dry spell, the longest the area had gone without precipitation was 75 days.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation named San Antonio the country’s first “Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone” this week.

As Texas Public Radio Carson Frame reports, it will help fight unemployment and underemployment among military spouses.

Military spouses move every few years and care for families when service members deploy. Many of them are highly educated but their unemployment rate sits at 16 percent. San Antonio’s newly announced Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone seeks to change that. Business and military communities in the area will partner to create an employment network, specifically for military spouses.

City Douncilman Greg Brockhouse challenged local businesses to actively recruit them. “And we at the city council, the mayor, myself, all my peers, are going to ask you to open your eyes and give that one extra special shot to someone who is already serving their country, and that’s a military spouse.”

The program grew out of a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation which found that financial stress and spousal unemployment played a role in whether service members stayed in the military.

Merriam-Webster defines a cat burglar as “a burglar who is adept at entering and leaving the burglarized place without attracting notice.” That is not an apt description for whoever broke into Houston’s first ever cat café Wednesday.

The thief left the door open, allowing five felines to escape. As KTRK, the local ABC-affiliate in Houston, reports, four of the cats have been returned, but one named Wink’ is still missing.

The El Gato Coffeehouse says it has set traps and stationed staff around the feline-friendly café to look for Wink.