The "Flash Drought" is Bringing the Texas Drought Creeping Back

It's back.EXPAND
It's back.
Image from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Remember how the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality declared the state drought officially over last month? Well, that didn't last long. 

Thanks to a nasty combo of hotter-than-hell temperatures and very little rain of late, part of the state is once again slipping into dryness and moderate to severe drought-like conditions, according to TCEQ. Now, this isn't the crippling drought that has gripped Texas for the past few years, because that ended. No, the National Weather Service actually coined a new term for this sort of dry and hot weather: A "flash drought."

Basically, it's a lot like a flash flood — where a bunch of rain comes down and thing like bayous suddenly overrun their banks and do a little flooding — except instead of all of that dramatic water, there's not much rain at all and the temperatures outside are so steadily  skillet-hot that things get very drought-like very quickly. It's that rapid shift into drought-esque that differentiates a "flash drought" from a regular old drought, Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, says, according to Texas Standard. 

“It’s just a way of discussing and talking about a drought event that develops rapidly and intensifies rapidly. Typically when we think of drought, we think of something that is developing quite slowly, and we don’t see these rapid changes,” he says. “But this time of year we can see those conditions develop at a more rapid pace, and that is really what we have seen across parts of East Texas and over the south here for the past month.”

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In spite of that dollop of rain we got over the weekend, the "flash drought" is still making itself felt as certain parts of the state slip back into actual drought. And while most would expect to see evidence of that lack of rain out in West Texas first, that's not how this is playing out. West Texas is still drought-free, but the drought conditions are showing up mildly in North Texas and actually getting a toehold right around the Houston and in East Texas, according to the TCEQ.

And there's nothing to be done about it. There's no set way of getting out of a "flash drought" because it pretty much just ends when it stops being so hot and dry and starts being less of both of those things. 

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