News Roundup: Almost Half Of Texas Is Experiencing Drought Conditions

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelJanuary 26, 2018 12:39 pm

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

Nearly 50 percent of Texas is in drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor’s weekly report released Thursday.

As the Texas Tribune first reported this week, these dry conditions have spread rapidly across the state just months after historic rains from Harvey.

Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, says it’s normal for the winter months in Texas to be dry, but there are a few unique factors at play this year. For one thing, we’re in the second year of La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean which makes for drier weather.

“And the other thing is too, in Texas especially, some of the same areas that were inundated by the tropical storms and the heavy rainfall associated with that. Some of those areas have been really dry since then are seeing drought conditions,” Fuchs says.

For comparison, at this time last year, only three percent of Texas was experiencing drought. Fuchs says the Texas Panhandle is currently being hit hardest by drought. And while drought is nothing new for Texans, Fuchs points out that some areas are still recovering from the drought that lasted from 2011 through 2015.

“On the surface it looks like they’ve recovered but when you dig deeper into them it looks like some of those deeper issues have not really recovered,” says Fuchs. “And I think that’s something with drought people fail to understand or even miss.” Fuchs says drought is expected to continue and develop in Texas through the spring.

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was not licensed to practice in Texas, according to the state’s Medical Board. Earlier this week, a judge sentenced Nassar to up to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting young, female athletes. Houston Public Media’s Allison Lee has more on Nassar’s Texas ties.

Several of Nassar’s victims recounted abuse at Karolyi Ranch…where they trained in Huntsville, Texas. And the Texas Medical Board now has confirmed Nassar didn’t have a license to practice for the state, as first reported by The Dallas Morning News.

In an email to Houston Public Media, a spokesman for the Texas Medical Board said, “If Dr. Nassar had been diagnosing or treating patients while in Texas for extended periods as have been reported, he would have had to hold a Texas Medical License to do so.”

On Monday, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they are investigating Karolyi Ranch – USA Gymnastic’s National Training Center, which as of last week, the organization announced it would no longer be using.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is in Texas speaking to college students.

Thursday, she stopped by the University of Texas at San Antonio to talk about her journey to the nation’s highest court. Camille Phillips with Texas Public Radio attended the talk and she reports Sotomayor told the audience decided to become an attorney at age 10, but she didn’t set out to become a justice. Her goal has been to learn something new every day and be a positive force in the world.

“Now, I’ve been gifted with leaving something big. My [judicial] opinions will last a long time, I hope,” said Sotomayor. “But even if they don’t, the legacy I want to leave is that I’ve said something today that might help somebody in a choice they’ll make tomorrow.”

Justice Sotomayor is speaking next at the University of Houston Law Center.