A drought has persisted in Bell County since at least August, according to federal weather agencies.
Because of that, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently said that the conditions here pose a threat of imminent disaster. He declared a state of disaster in 17 countries, including Bell County.
“Significantly low rainfall and prolonged dry conditions continue to increase the threat of wildfire across these portions of the state,” Abbott said in a proclamation issued Friday. “These drought conditions pose an imminent threat to public health, property and the economy.”
The declaration allows local governments to use all available state resources to deal with their drought conditions. It also removes red tape that could block local governments from getting aid.
The other counties affected by the declaration are Bandera, Blanco, Burnet, Karnes, Kendall, Kinney, Llano, Maverick, McCulloch, Medina, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Williamson, Zapata and Zavala.
Bell County is under two drought intensities right now: moderate and severe, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The county has seen trace amounts of rain in the past week, according to five rainfall monitor sites maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey.
National Weather Service data showed that Bell County saw 30 inches of rain from January through November. That is a decrease from the 36.64 inches of rain recorded at Stillhouse Hollow Dam in 2018.
There are slight chances of showers this week, according to the National Weather Service. There is a 20 percent chance of showers after midnight Wednesday, and a chance of showers and an isolated thunderstorm on Thursday. The likelihood of showers and thunderstorms increases to 50 percent on Friday.
Bell County would need 3 to 6 inches of precipitation for the next four weeks to break its drought, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Despite the drought, Bell County’s lakes are mostly full, according to the Brazos River Authority. Lake Belton is at 92 percent of capacity while Stillhouse Hollow Lake is at 91 percent.