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Updated: Monday, 03 Sep 2012, 5:52 PM CDT
Published : Monday, 03 Sep 2012, 5:30 PM CDT
BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) - It’s been one year since wildfires ravaged Central Texas, including Bastrop.
Looking back, it was a series of weather events that led to the outbreak of fires Labor Day weekend.
"It was the reality of how bad the drought was and then realizing it was happening in worst-case scenario," said National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Paul Yura.
That worst-case scenario was a combination of record heat, record drought and wind from a tropical storm.
By September 2011, we'd already seen 2 1/2 months of 100-degree days. Exceptional drought -- the worst category -- stretched over more than 80 percent of Texas.
"We'd already had some spotfires in Travis County, in Williamson County," said Yura. "We knew the conditions were there: The fuel was there, all the dry grass, all the dry brush. And we were just looking for another trigger day."
That trigger was Tropical Storm Lee making landfall to our east in Louisiana. Winds around that storm pushed dry air in from the north. They gusted up around 40 mph.
"When the winds began kicking up, it became obvious that any sort of fire that would start -- be it natural or unnatural -- would get out of hand very quickly," said Yura.
The Bastrop County fire started after tree limbs fell on power lines. In no time, the fire was out of control. It grew so large, it could be seen on weather radar.
"All the big pieces off the bark and everything else, what people don't realize is once that fire gets so big you see it on radar, those little pieces are getting carried and starting more fires," said Yura.
The weather pattern began changing a few months later. A wet winter helped ease some of our drought. This August, the grass along area highways looked greener than last year.
"Just talking about pure rainfall totals, we're nearly triple where we were this time last year,” said Yura.
We're not out of the woods just yet, though. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate drought still stretches across most of Central Texas.
For more historical weather information, check out Jim Spencer’s weather diary.
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