Hell: “Unprecedented drought” drives “never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas”

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"Hell: “Unprecedented drought” drives “never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas”"

High Water: Aussie inland tsunami labelled 1-in-370 year event

This is a situation of historic proportions,” said Victoria Koenig, public information officer with the Texas Forest Service, in a phone interview with AccuWeather.com Tuesday. “The fuels are so dry. The winds are astronomical. The behavior of the winds is a perplexing situation. It’s never been like this before.”

Koenig added, “When you put all the ingredients together, you’re getting close to having the ‘perfect fire storm‘.”

That’s Accuweather meteorologist Heather Buchman writing about “a never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas has led to the scorching of nearly 1 million acres and destruction of hundreds of homes and buildings.

ClimateProgress recently wrote about the record drought hitting Texas, just as the Congressional delegation votes to deny climate change.  It was clear in that post the unprecedented drought was setting the stage for a possible devastating wildfire, which, Buchman reports, is just what happened:

Texas drought

Texas is in the midst of one of the worst droughts, in terms of the depth and expanse of drought conditions, since the early 1900s.

Dan Byrd, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., said, “This is an unprecedented drought situation [in terms of] how widespread it is and the depth of the drought. We haven’t seen anything like this for the state overall since the early 1900s.

Koenig commented, “It’s pretty phenomenal and historic. The entire state is involved in this. When you look at the size of Texas, from the panhandle to the coast, you have about 1,000 miles.”

According to the latest analysis by the U.S. Drought Monitor on April 12, 2011, the entire state of Texas was experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions with most areas in a severe to exceptional drought.

If folks think it’s bad now, just keep doing nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (see “USGS on Dust-Bowlification: Drier conditions projected to accelerate dust storms in the U.S. Southwest” and “NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path”).  A 2010 study found that virtually all of Texas will be at high or extreme risk of climate-induced water shortage and drought in 2050.

Back to Accuweather:

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there were 20 active fires in Texas as of Tuesday morning. The center also reported that the current active fires have burned approximately 930,360 acres and that additional aerial resources were being called in to help battle the blazes.

Byrd said Tuesday that the largest fires were affecting areas near San Angelo, the Davis Mountains and the Big Country, which spans a region west of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

This image, courtesy of the Incident Information Center and Google, shows active wildfires across Texas as of early Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

The Wildcat fire near San Angelo has scorched an estimated 150,000 acres and was only 10 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, according to the Texas Forest Service.

Less scientifically, the AP had an amazing story:

N.L. Winter says that in his 106 years on the rolling plains of West Texas, he has never seen anything like the fires of the past week.The man known to friends and family as “Boss” saw three of the homes where he has lived burn in a vast wildfire that spread across his ranch and parts of four counties north of Abilene.

“It is the worst fire I’ve ever seen,” he told the Abilene Reporter-News.

So we’ve seen the hellish.  You may recall the high water that hit Queensland in January — See “Deadly flash flood hits Australia,” which quoted a Reuters piece that opened, “Climate change has likely intensified the monsoon rains that have triggered record floods in Australia’s Queensland state, scientists said.”

Now ABC reports:

A hydrologist has told the Queensland flood inquiry that some parts of Toowoomba experienced a one-in-370-year rainfall event in January.

The inquiry has begun its regional hearings, taking evidence in Toowoomba where a super storm cell claimed two lives.

Now in its second week, the inquiry is trying to explain how and why a deadly wall of water went through the city and the Lockyer Valley with such devastating consequences.

Hydrologist Philip Jordan says the sheer volume of water that fell on the region on January 10 was the reason it flooded with such intensity, claiming 21 lives in total.

He says one gauge in Toowoomba received 96 millimetres in an hour, which he described as a one-in-370-year event.

Here is a stunning video of the flooding:

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45 Responses to Hell: “Unprecedented drought” drives “never-before-seen wildfire situation in Texas”

  1. Steve Bloom says:

    That first quote of Koenig has something missing at the end, Joe.

    It will be very interesting to see Texas politicians attempt to grapple with this.

    [JR: Fixed. Thx.]

  2. Joan Savage says:

    Maps of the Texas fire danger area and the Texas meteorological drought area show some separation from each other as well as some overlap.

    Fire danger map:
    http://webgis.tamu.edu/tfs/rawsd/rawsfcst.png

    Keetch-Byram Drought Index map:
    http://webgis.tamu.edu/tfs/kbdi_daily/kbdicounty.png

  3. Peter M says:

    What is happening in Texas, will be common all throughout the mid southwest by 2020.

    Something of interest also from the MSM this morning, in all of all places Market watch. Paul Farrell always a visionary said this;

    The Pentagon predicts that by 2020 “warfare will define human life” as global population explodes 50% to 10 billion in 2050. Powerful commercial, political and ideological forces drive globalization. Emerging nations compete for scarce resources. This is “the mother of all national security issues,” warns the Pentagon.

    “Unrest would then create massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes. Rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, they may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. By 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening. As the planet’s carrying capacity shrinks an ancient pattern reemerges: the eruption of desperate, all-out wars over food, water and energy supplies and warfare defining human life.”

    See the whole read at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-doomsday-trends-america-cant-survive-2011-04-19?link=home_carousel

  4. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Some of the fires look pretty close together. Let’s hope they don’t join up to create a fire storm but the 50mph wind doesn’t sound too good, ME

  5. Barry says:

    It must be a comfort to Texans to be assured by Republicans that extreme droughts happen because God is mad or for some other reason totally out of our control.

    Because if extreme droughts and wacky dangerous weather WERE caused in part by humans dumping all those billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the air every year then we could actually do something to keep it from getting worse. And who wants to have a solution to such a nasty problem. Best to be helpless and passive. That’s the GOP way.

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    If the reaction of the Right in Australia is anything to go by, you can expect little remorse, repentance or even acknowledgement of the situation by the denialnasties. After the deadly bushfires in Victoria in February 2009, where there was the same combination of unprecedented drought, record temperatures, fierce winds and near zero humidity, the Right here simply went ballistic. It had absolutely nothing to do with so-called ‘climate change’, they screeched, which, in any case was a lie and a Communist conspiracy, as we all know. In a particularly nasty twist (a manouevre at which they are masters)they started caterwauling that it was ‘inappropriate’ and ‘disrespectful’ to even contemplate why this horror had befallen the 173 victims, a new and nauseating twist on their never-ending war on human intelligence and knowledge.
    And then they hit their ‘sweet spot’. The Murdoch apparat began a campaign, echoed in the other MSM, to blame the disaster on ‘Greenies’. Yes, indeed-the horror had nothing to do with drought, temperature or wind speed, but was entirely due to the evil and detested (and it would be difficult to overstate just how viscerally the Right here despise environmentalists)Greenies stopping ‘hazard reduction’ burning of forest fuel, litter etc. It was a campaign that culminated in one opinion writer (in Fairfax, although she has since rejoined Murdoch)calling (and being published!!??)for the Greenies ‘responsible’ to be lynched and hanged from lamp-posts.
    In the midst of this hysteria (can you imagine how the Right are going to react when the really big disasters begin?)the facts, that hazard reduction burning had never been more extensive than in recent years and that it had only been limited by its extreme dangerousness, even in winter, because of the failure of autumn and winter rains for over a decade, were, naturally, simply ignored. So I predict that the US and Texan Right will find some nonsensical reason to blame environmentalists for this disaster, and go for broke, aided and abetted by a totally complicit Rightwing MSM.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Barry #5, is the causation because God is ‘mad’ as in angry and pissed-off, or that God is ‘mad’ in that He, She or It is insane or deranged. I suspect the latter, as I am one of those who see ‘God’ as simply the ego-projection of the ‘God-fearing’, and most of them, in my opinion, fit that category.

  8. David Fox says:

    This, and the BP posts remind me of something Bill McKibben talks about in Eaarth. Namely that one way, or one aspect of the downfall of civilization is simply not having enough money to make things right.

    I think that most here probably have read about the huge transfer of wealth in this country from the low and middle classes to the ruling class. One part of that is infrustructure spending, as Huffington puts it, “Third World America”, death by a thousand cuts.

    I wonder what is going to happen in Texas? I have to believe that you better hope you don’t live in one of these places; North Carolina, Texas, or the Gulf coast – because there isn’t going to be a lot of help for you.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Spot on Mulga. We had the same garbage here after the fire storm hit the city in 2003 and the virulent legal battles continue to this day with the ‘authorities’ denying their irresponsibility in not issuing a warning until 2 hours before it hit, even though blind Freddy and his dog could see the extreme conditions after years of extraordinary drought and could see and smell what was happening with the fires themselves, ME

  10. Gord says:

    We characterize the 20th C as the century of Man Vs. Man. The century saw the industrialization of killing to such a point that millions could die at the push of the button.

    We see the 21st C as the century of Man vs. Nature. This century will place mankind in a world that is more and more unlike the home he has known for millenia.

    Many folks are very upset at the deaths that are caused now by Global Warming and are horrified at the projected death and destruction over the course of this new century. It’s all about physics, that force of nature that carries on no matter who suffers.

    But, there is double-trouble afoot. Mankind has not forgotten about nor dismantled the industrial killing machines. They are there awaiting use … and over the course of this century it will become increasingly difficult for them NOT to be used.

    The scenario for this century becomes Man against both Nature and Man.

  11. windsong says:

    m.(whoever, whatever)Mumblebrain– God, being spirit, can never fit those descriptions. You’re thinking of humans/self.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    The memo went out to every reporter and editor in mainstream media: Don’t you ever attribute any single weather event to climate change! How convenient. Every weather event is a singularity.

    Mulga, yeah, we noticed what happened Down Under in 2009, and were wondering how Murdoch spun it. Whatever he did, he appears to have succeeded, all to rake in a few more auto and coal ads for his outlets in Australia. Apparently this 80 something billionaire needs the money.

    Barry, the Texas Congressional delegation will never admit to either global warming or human influence, no matter what happens. Theirs is a rigid society, and facts they don’t like quickly become conspiracies put forth by their enemies. I’ve got relatives in Texas, and they have a strange kind of cultural death wish. It’s noble in their eyes to go down fighting, as at the Alamo or Antietam, and they don’t even care about the cause, really. It’s weird beyond words.

  13. adelady says:

    Am I just being Australian here and not understanding climate in Texas? How come these fires are in April? Here we normally expect any such fires to be at the end rather than the beginning of summer.

    Or is the region one of those summer rainfall areas where fires are unlikely during the rainy period.

  14. joyce says:

    Mike, growing up in TX I can confirm that it’s “weird beyond words.” I remember several school fieldtrips to see “The Alamo” with John Wayne. Yet it’s amazing that they have had some terrifically enlightened politicians through the years that managed to get elected. And they spawned Molly Ivans, who’s priceless observations of the TX state legislature made my dad laugh until tears ran.

  15. Wit's End says:

    Joan Savage, #2, pointed out that although there is overlap, there is also some disparity in fire danger maps and drought maps.

    This is quite possibly because vegetation is dying not only from climate-change induced drought and warming, but also from pollution. Trees damaged by exposure to ozone are more likely to succumb to other stressors, including drought. This provides fuel for wildfires.

    Expect many more wildfires in unexpected places, including those that are not dry.

    At the end of this post is a link to the story of pecan trees in Texas, dying from air pollution.

    http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/12/cri-de-coeur.html

  16. paulm says:

    Interesting to see who gets converted from this mad weather happening across the US.

    And I guarantee that there will be converts now. By 2012, when things will be hotter and worse, there is going to be mass capitulation and maybe even panic. But it will probably be too late for global food supplies by then….

    Scott Mandia: More Warming, More Severe Weather
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=118203684927251&id=139434822741700

    Scott Mandia is a founder of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which helps media outlets quickly connect with the most relevant specialists when bogus climate stories pop up.

    Here he speaks up on the recent severe weather outbreak across the south.

  17. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Peter M #3. Farrell or the Pentagon or both have their population projections wrong. The UN has revised its projections down because death rates are up. The 3 major causes are an explosion of HIV, dwindling water resources and crop failures, in other words starvation.

    Even industrialized countries such as Russia have increasing death rates because of heat waves and related phenomena. The US experiences an increase of 6% excess deaths with every heat wave. And of course, on top of that now, we have all the excess deaths from climate disasters such as floods and mudslides – all those little waifs in Pakistan that were born, faded away and died without the world paying them a moment’s notice. Then add in the newer threats such as increased seismic activity and tsunamis and it makes you wonder how soon the global population is going to decline rather than grow. And it won’t be a moment too soon, ME

  18. Dan MB says:

    Floods Fires and Famine or Clean Green and Mean?

    We gotta make the solutions seem visionary, powerful, and courageous or the thugs the right eggs on will make life hell.

    One parallel with what’s going on in the Middle East and Northern Africa is many people adopted non-violence. Those who responded with peaceful resistance when they were attacked persuaded important constituents and influential groups that the thugs had gone too far. In Lybia the resistance had little or no access to the intellectual framework of non-violent social change. They responded with violence which undermined their legitimacy as agents of change. At the same time the non-violent groups were anything but cowardly.

  19. Solar Jim says:

    Since I perceive climate collapse occurring on an exponential scale, not linearly, I predict an entire US state will be underwater within one decade. Hell and high waters at the same time.

    On the other hand, the new PBS show with Lester Brown was hopeful, and Power Shift in D.C. inspirational. Thanks to all.

    Remember, petroleum is not an energy resource. Texas is now suffering it’s own blowback from failure of concept. Drill baby drill, burn baby burn, flood baby flood. All the money in the world will not stop natural law.

  20. paulm says:

    Peter @3, only this time we have nukes and all manner of mass destruction technology!

  21. Scott says:

    #2. and #13. Map non-overlaps and fires in April: apparently has to do with unusually lush fuel sources after heavy rains in winter. In other words, lots of grass, now dead and dry due to a lot of heavy winds, providing ample fuel in some places and not in others. There have also been fires in Piney woods of Southest Texas and inside the Austin city limits. A few days ago the count was 900+ firefirghters scattered around the state, but I have not seen an update on that number. As more fuel dries out there will probably be more fires.

    Owen Temple’s “One Day Closer to Rain” has become the Texas drought anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ptgZKY7FdI

  22. Villabolo says:

    @6 Mulga Mumblebrain:

    Blaming others for what they’re guilty of is a common psychopathic trait. In any case, I predicted that this would happen 10-20 years from now as AGW progressed from bad to worse. It seems that I was too conservative with the time frame.

    Until all of us realize, not so much that we’re dealing with psychopaths; because most of us have already come to that conclusion; but how not to deal with psychopaths, the situation will remain hopeless.

  23. Villabolo says:

    @5 Barry:

    “It must be a comfort to Texans to be assured by Republicans that extreme droughts happen because God is mad or for some other reason totally out of our control.”

    The only gods I believe in are the gods of irony.

  24. JCH says:

    adelady – I first noticed wildfires in this region on trips from Dallas to Oklahoma City, and many of them were in the spring. A lot of land alongside I-35 burned. That was a few years ago. But they’ve also had fires in the fall in Oklahoma. A couple of years ago a bunch of homes burned in the Lost Forest, which is just east of Austin – spring fire.

  25. Don Gisselbeck says:

    Even more irony from nature; we are still skiing powder here in Montana with snow pack much higher than normal. So of course no righty here will ever be convinced AGW is not a hoax.

  26. Vic says:

    Next up, warnings of a huge bushfire season about to descend on central and northern Australia.

    “Fuel loads in the Top End are going to be higher than we’ve experienced in the past and that means hotter, more dangerous fires.

    “This is one of those rare years where we are going to have fires in Central Australia and they are not going to be mild. They are going to be quite intense fires in the centre as well.”

    http://abc.com.au/news/stories/2011/04/20/3196714.htm

    Won’t someone shut that damned canary up !

  27. johne says:

    I know it’s bad enough in Texas, even this early in Spring, but even where I live in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, we are being warned of the fire threat this year-it’s 20C today, about 10 above average. I thought I escaped all this when I left Australia. BTW, the 370 year figure for Queensland is an average-some areas are estimated at 1 in 1000 year events.

  28. Hypnos says:

    Stuart Staniford argues that it is not so exceptional after all. Certainly not when compared to the Dust Bowl – and to what’s in store for the 2030s.

    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2011/04/texasoklahoma-drought-in-context.html

    Mind it, Staniford is by no means a denier, and he recognizes climate change as the civilizational threat that it is.

  29. Hypnos says:

    Merrelyn #17 do you have a link or reference to the UN revising its population estimates down?

    I just saw the next forecast will be published on May 5th 2011, while the last one from 2008 still put the number in 2050 at over 9 billion.

    Thank you.

  30. sydb says:

    There is a certain element of Greek tragedy in this. Hubris was punished by Nemesis, and the audiences knew that there would be retribution for the wrongdoer. Alas, we too, have known, unless we chose to be wilfully ignorant, that we have been heading on the road to disaster.

    In some ways, it seems, those who warn of the dangers are in a lose-lose game. Warnings can be pooh-poohed and as long as things have gone on normally, the polluters have claimed, with the help of “collaborator scientists,” that it’s just some left-wing plot. Those who pointed out what’s really going on are vilified, while those who are telling the lies, claim they are the victims of a close-knit group of scientists who are doing it for the grant money. Really? I wonder who gets paid more, a physics Ph.D who goes to work at NCAR or one who goes to work at Goldman Sachs?

    On the other hand, who wants to be proved correct in such a disastrous manner? And the infinite capacity of self-delusion on the Right, coupled with the megarich not giving a fig for the consequences of their actions, means that things will go from bad to worse. The propaganda will be ratcheted up as the warning signs get ever more plain. The ignorant, and those who don’t know the magnitude of their own ignorance, will scream ever louder that it’s not happening.

  31. a face in the clouds says:

    @adelady #13 — Up front, I should note that the Texas wildfires have now burned 1.7 million acres.

    In answer to your question, it’s not entirely unusual to have spring wildfires in Texas after a dry autumn and winter. Spring is always breezy anyway, but the fires can get especially bad in a year like this when summer comes early. The high temperature this time of year averages in the upper 70′s here in Central Texas, but we’re already seeing 90′s and even some spotty 100 degree readings. The humidity is regularly dipping below ten percent and evaporation rates are in the unofficial range of “wicked.” The ingredients are all adding up to a dreaded situation where drought is begetting drought and one can’t buy rain. In fact, I just got an email from relatives in drought-addled Northeast Texas (which averages upwards of 50 inches a year) to let me know their home wasn’t in last night’s news footage of tornado debris scattered along a nearby highway. Said they got four feet of rain — “four feet between raindrops,” that is.

    If something dramatic doesn’t happen to slow down these rising temperatures and at least put a temporary dent in the drought, the headlines from Texas could become as horrifying as some of those we’ve all read from Australia.

    Here’s hoping for a lot of good headlines from Australia. We’re particularly fond of Australians (and New Zealanders) here in Texas.

  32. Joan Savage says:

    Darn — I didn’t store a link to an earlier newsfeed on Texas. One component of the fires is that last year had been a lush growing season, so the consequence was more dry grass and forbs available that could feed fires. Another newsfeed suggested as many as 40% of Texas wildfires are started by human behavior like an untended campfire or a tossed cigarette.

    I went to the fire risk map this morning, and the situation has morphed into a different pattern. Southern Texas is less at risk. San Antonio is cloudy, humid, and with no wind.
    As usual, weather is the controller for fire, after the fuel availability.

  33. MarkF says:

    “Another newsfeed suggested as many as 40% of Texas wildfires are started by human behavior like an untended campfire or a tossed cigarette.”

    yes, of course, it’s the all because of those campers and smokers.

  34. paulm says:

    We need a pattern shift.” no mention of GW…

    Texas burning ‘from border to border’
    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/04/20/texas.fires/?hpt=T1
    “Even if we get two inches of rain the ground’s going to eat it up,” said David Hennig, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Midland, Texas. “We need a pattern shift.”

  35. Joan Savage says:

    Mark F

    Good morning.
    Please, let’s not ignore the human factor in either wildfire occurrence or climate change. As you surely know, denialists don’t like to admit that a multiplicity of individual human decisions has collectively perturbed the atmosphere.

    If wildfires in Texas were only caused by natural lightning strikes and the like, we’d have a somewhat different situation there this morning, still dangerous from the combination of high fuel supply and severe drought.

    What has been reliably predicted about climate change is more variability in weather. In Texas the sequence of wet growth season followed by severe drought season is an aspect of variability. It would take a very good data set to see what is the extent of trend in Texas, though.

    The Texas Climate Initiative has some interesting links and references, but not specific to fire in West Texas, yet.
    http://www.texasclimate.org/ClimateChange/WestTexas/tabid/437/Default.aspx

  36. MarkF says:

    Joan Savage

    hi to you as well, not much of a comment by me, sorry.

    I don’t mean that stubble burning, discarded still lit cigarettes, campfires left unattended, train wheels, etc, don’t start fires.

    I meant that the first, and only thing I hear on the radio and television news, when this type of devastating

    fire occurs, is

    that person “A” started the fire, while burning leaves on a windy day, and has been charged. end of discussion.

    problem solved.

    No discussion whatsoever, of why the fire is massive, unprecedented , uncontrollable, and likely to be commonplace in the years to come.

    Same thing in B.C. a few years ago, when the pine beetle destroyed tinder dry forests went up.

    and just wait, till forest in B.C. catches fire again. which it will.

  37. Joan Savage says:

    Mark F

    Thanks very much for your expanded comment, and also for sharing the reminder about long-term B.C. fire hazard, as long as the dead trees are available as fuel.

    Your comment is really a challenge to journalists who work largely with personal stories, so that means there’s work ahead to bring in factors of “massive, unprecedented , uncontrollable, and likely to be commonplace.”

    Oversimplifying the causes of the Texas fires had a dark side. Hostility towards the homeless erupted in Austin after a homeless man was charged with arson for leaving the dying embers of a fire unattended. The fire expanded and burned down 18 homes in the Oak Hill area of Austin.
    http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-national/in-texas-governor-perry-echoes-hatred-for-homeless-after-austin-fire

  38. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Hypnos #29. You are quite right about the official UN projection. I google words like ‘global death rates’ every now and again and get a range of data from various agencies. I’m sorry I don’t have a link to the one I quoted but from memory I think it was from Lester Brown discussing the effect of the increase in death rates added to the fall in birth rates, ME

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Villabolo #22, you are indeed correct. How to avoid the psychopathic system is a crucial question. I have no idea how to manage it, because the system has criminalised all dissent, but the impotent rage of the blogs, and I do not doubt that they have plans to emasculate that as well. As Monbiot, in his non-loony observations concerning UK law has pointed out, under Blair and previous Rightwing regimes in the UK, scores of pieces of legislation were passed to restrict dissent. The country is covered with CCTV monitors.The WTO obscenity has outlawed boycotts on free trade grounds, and has eviscerated environmental and labour regulations on the same sanctified altar.Environmental movements in the UK and Europe have been penetrated by numerous police spies, informants and provocateurs, who have operated for years. In fact the West is a collection of ‘soft totalitarian’ states where ‘freedom’ must, by definition, be impotent in addressing elite control and dominance. Direct action to stop environmental destruction will always be repressed until its too late, so, as Pablo Casals said ‘The situation is hopeless-we must take the next step’. But what that step is, I really cannot say.

  40. a face in the clouds says:

    Yes, we found the cause of the wildfires in Texas. It was a lone homeless man frying eggs on the edge of Austin.

    That’s Governor Perry’s brain on drugs, or whatever he inhaled while “touring” the wildfires in SW Texas. He came back to Austin visibly shaken by what he saw (remember Perry is a former Ag Commissioner whose campaign featured rugged tales of growing up on the fire prone, Low Rolling Plains of Texas). People here started getting sick in droves from the smoke blowing in behind him, and then the back yard of the state’s power brokers caught fire. Placing blame must have been a difficult toss-up between the tackiness of nearly losing one’s mansion to a man with no home, and admitting the mistake of allowing big polluters to pick and choose the laws they want to observe.

    The man blamed for the Oak Hill fire won’t be allowed to fall through the cracks. On the contrary, he may wind up as the face of the real victims of a far, far worse and more complex problem. Besides, the Texas-sized finger pointing is probably yet to come. All of this smoke may only be a curtain raiser for a deadly hot summer.

  41. Stephen Watson says:

    #31 – “Spring is always breezy anyway, but the fires can get especially bad in a year like this when summer comes early.”

    What if it’s not summer coming early but just a very hot Spring. Then wait and see what Summer is actually like when it arrives …

  42. a face in the clouds says:

    For Mr. Watson above — What we call an “early summer” in these parts is a warning of potentially disastrous heat ahead. We can’t wait and react because historically it’s been the type of heat that kills and disables people, and disrupts the state’s infrastructure. Most municipalities don’t publicly acknowledge worsening climate change, but they appear to be factoring it into summer preparations, especially this year because of uncertainty over another La Nina possibly forming in late summer. We are just coming out from under a La Nina that likely contributed to the current drought, “early summer” and wildfires. Another La Nina could prolong and vastly worsen the current catastrophe.

  43. edwards says:

    Maybe Pat Robertson, the “God expert”, will tell us why God is doing this to Texas

  44. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #43: It must be punishment for not having already seceded from the Union. Er, again.

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    The hose can have a water moving chamber and a water spraying chamber,
    and particular hose spraying segments can be turned on and off by
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    My website is http://www.electric-fluid-pipeline.com

    Two fire equipment companies has been discussing the invention with me.
    Please help me get some funding to stimulate development of a
    prototype of the system.
    I have US patents for the invention.