Texas has received only 6 inches of rain this year, compared to 13 inches on average. This is the state’s worst-ever drought, according to AP, leaving 90% of the state in the two most extreme stages of drought.A drought of this severity will leave its mark for years to come.
More than half the streams and rivers are at below normal flow rates and at least seven reservoirs are practically empty. Bacteria called Chromatiaceae that thrive in low-oxygen environments have caused the O.C. Fisher Reservoir to turn red. This naturally occurring phenomenon isn’t dangerous in itself, rather it’s an indicator of weather conditions in the state.
The impact on the wildlife in the area is expected to be harsh. With water bodies drying up, entire ecosystems are at risk of being wiped out. Fish are typically the first to be impacted, but lack of water has also hurt plant growth, which has seen a drop in insects and low seed production. In turn, larger animals dependent on plants and seeds for sustenance are going hungry and reproducing less. And this impact is expected to last for years to come.
There are urban hazards to the heat as well. In Iowa and Texas, pavements have blown-up in the heat, as water vapor trapped in the concrete caused minor explosions. Expanding metal rails have caused trains to operate slower and, as natural resources dry up, pests like ants and cockroaches have started making their way into homes seeking out water, according to ABC News.
The lack of rain has been blamed on a La Niña, which is characterised by cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, and is expected to stretch into 2012.
Here’s a map of the crisis:
Photo: U.S. Drought monitor
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.