By Enzo Monfre, SciTech Kids! Columnist
If you live in places like Texas then you may be annoyed because it’s too hot and dry outside. That’s pretty normal for Texas but, if this situation goes on for too long it could be a drought.
A drought means that there is a lack of water for a long period of time. It can be months or even years before you see a drop of rain. The worst droughts in Texas were in 1918 and 1956. These droughts lasted over a year and almost ten years respectively. The current drought in Texas is the third longest on record going on for eleven months – the longest time on record.
How dry is it?
It’s so dry, catfish are carrying canteens.
It’s so dry cows are giving evaporated milk.
It’s so dry, fire hydrants are chasing dogs around!
There is no sign that the current drought will break anytime soon, but it is impossible to predict how long the drought may go on. Going back even further in time, climate data from tree rings shows that in the past, Texas has suffered through droughts that lasted decades.
Droughts are currently most severe in the United States in Texas. So far, Texas has only received 6.5 inches of the 16 inches that has normally accumulated by this time of year. That’s 10 inches less rain. It doesn’t sound like much but it causes big problems.
Droughts are big trouble
Many problems are caused by drought. Lack of water means all the plants die so animals have less to eat so they enter homes find food water and shelter so you may find a bug in your shoe, a turtle on your sofa, or a rat on your pillow. Here in Central Texas, we have a problem with feral pigs. They are moving farther than their normal habitat and clashing with humans. Because they can’t find water.
Another problem is that forests die off so there is a higher risk of forest fire. This season has been one of the worst for fires in Central Texas ever. More than 2,718 homes have burned down in Texas. Fires in Texas this year have burned over 3.75 million acres of forest and farmland.
Another issue with drought is that farmers have trouble growing crops creating a shortage of supplies to make food, clothing and other things, Texas has suffered an estimated $5.2 billion U.S. dollars in crop and livestock losses. Farmers not only lose money because they have no crops, but also their livestock dies from heat exhaustion and lack of water.
Water tables all over Texas are at all time lows. This means that the water we need to survive is slowly running out. One example is the San Gabriel River. What once was a thriving habitat for fish and wildlife is now just a dry bed of dust and dead algae.
Types of drought
There are three types of droughts.
Many areas experience lower amounts of water. Lack of water in river systems and reservoirs can impact hydroelectric power companies, farmers, wildlife, and communities.
A lack of rain is the most common definition of drought and is usually the type of drought referred to in news reports.
When soil moisture becomes a problem, the agricultural industry is in trouble with drought. Shortages in precipitation and reduced ground water levels can create stress and problems for crops.
Here in Texas, the drought started as a lack of rain. The longer it lasts, the more problems it will cause. So if you are reading this, get that bug out of your shoe and do a rain dance. We sure would appreciate it.