Lubbock is creeping closer to surpassing its driest period on record, and the South Plains is moving deeper into drought status.
Those parched conditions - along with a forecast for dry, windy and warm weather - prompted the National Weather Service in Lubbock to issue a fire weather watch Saturday afternoon and evening for Lubbock County and much of the central and western South Plains.
Winds from 20 to 25 mph and humidity levels between 10 to 15 percent, along with “critically dry” grass and other vegetation, could support rapid growth of grass fires that could threaten homes and other structures through the day, according to the National Weather Service in Lubbock.
Those conditions have persisted through the week, which saw numerous fires across the region, including one that destroyed a home and burned 26 acres Tuesday at Ransom Canyon and another Friday that destroyed five abandoned trailers and burned 45 acres to the north Friday in Randall County, according to the Globe-News.
Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport hasn’t seen measurable rainfall since Nov. 8, making Friday the 86th day of the stretch - the third longest dry period on record, according to the weather service. That’s two days shy of the second-longest dry spell - 88 days from October 1921 to January 1922. The record is 98 days, which came between October 2005 and February 2006.
On Thursday, the United States Drought Monitor reported escalating drought conditions in West Texas, including an upgrade intensity from severe to extreme drought around Lubbock County, although much of the region remained under severe conditions. Extreme drought conditions, according to the Drought Monitor, indicate the potential for major crop and pasture losses and widespread water shortages or restrictions. By Friday, however, Lubbock’s main sources of surface water were relatively high for the winter, with Lake Alan Henry at 84.3 percent full and Lake Meredith at 40.7 percent.