LUBBOCK, Texas – A flash drought happens like any other drought, occurring when an area receives less precipitation than normal. The difference with a flash drought is how fast it can escalate.
Typically a combination of hot and dry weather with steady wind conditions will rapidly deplete the soil moisture and cause vegetative stress.
Agriculture tends to be the most affected by a flash drought, typically occurring in the spring and early summer when the growing season is most critical however it can rapidly deplete reservoir levels as well.
“One really important area that people can help is to follow the rules the municipality set on sprinkler usage,” said Ron McQueen, National Weather Service senior forecaster. “Those are certainly set for a reason, and that will increase the water availability for everyone.”
In West Texas, we only get a quarter of our total precipitation during the winter months, which amounts to about four to five inches of rain on average.
To conserve water, many homes are now converting to xeriscaping. The word xeric means containing little moisture or very dry.
Xeriscapes consist of rocks, artificial turf and drought tolerant plants like red yucca, Texas sage and ornamental grasses which requires virtually no maintenance.
“It is going to be a little more expensive because rock is not cheap, but you’re not paying to water it like you are grass,” said Matt Taylor of Paradise Lawn and Landscape.
Many homes are using low cost gravel for the places around the home they no longer want to mow like the side of the house or alleys.
“You don’t have to rip out to yard and put gravel in it to be water wise,” Taylor said. “Just make sure your sprinklers are watering efficiently and hitting where they’re supposed to be watering at certain times of the day where you’re not wasting water.”
Taylor recommended that if you have Bermuda grass to water occasionally during the winter when conditions are nice outside and not windy. A bit of moisture in the ground will help the grass come up in the spring.