Texas Isn’t The Same As Australia, But Drought And Fire Are Still Risks

One protective factor is that Texas, unlike Australia, isn’t usually windy during its hottest months.

By Kristen CabreraJanuary 7, 2020 11:01 am

Brushfires have burned nearly 20 million acres in Australia since September, and almost 200 fires are still burning across the southeastern part of the country. Dry conditions are expected to get worse, which means possibly more fires by the weekend.

Here in Texas, we’re used to drought conditions, but the fires in Australia are a reminder of the risks that can come with drought.

John Nielsen-Gammon is the state climatologist based at Texas A&M University. He says much of Texas is in a drought right now.

“It’s about 25% to 30% of the state in drought right now with the worst areas toward the southwest toward the Rio Grande,” Nielsen-Gamon says.

Texas, on the whole, is actually wetter than in years past, he says. But it’s also getting hotter, which speeds up water evaporation.

Texas has two fire seasons: one from now through April, and the other over the summer. What he says is different here than in Australia is that Texas is less windy during the hotter months, which is a good thing.

Predictions indicate there might be fewer fires in the future in Far West Texas because the ecosystem is changing, and less vegetation will grow there, Nielsen-Gammon says. But that transition is often made possible because of fire.

“Unfortunately, the period of transition is often not very pretty,” he says.


Written by Caroline Covington.