AUSTIN (KXAN) — Between critical to extreme wildfire conditions in western Texas and severe storm threats in eastern Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott is requesting that additional state resources be ready to respond.
According to a release from the governor’s office, the Texas State Emergency Operations Center is working at a “Level II: Escalated Response” because of the weather threats.
Those threats include the potential for large hail, damaging winds, tornadoes and flash flooding in North, Central and East Texas through Wednesday. Here in the Austin area on Tuesday, we could see large hail (up to egg-sized) and damaging winds (in excess of 60+ mph), according to the First Warning Weather team.
A possible wildfire outbreak could occur on Tuesday as well in the Texas Panhandle, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service. People who live near Canadian, Amarillo, Childress, Lubbock, and Midland could be impacted. These areas have extremely dry vegetation that will be above normal temperatures, low humidity, and high wind speeds.
An increased fire threat persists through Wednesday in the Panhandle, South Plains, Permian Basin, West Texas, Big Country, Concho Valley, Texoma and the Border Region, Abbott’s office said.
“The State of Texas has mobilized resources for West and East Texas ahead of critical fire weather and severe storm threats in those regions, respectively,” Abbott said in the release. “Texans are encouraged to remain resilient and heed the guidance of local officials to protect their loved ones, and we thank our emergency responders who are working to protect our communities this Holy Week.”
The forest service has more than 325 state firefighters, 175 local firefighters from 56 different departments, including 45 engines, and more than 100 firefighters from 12 states on deck. They are also using aviation resources like large airtankers, single-engine air tankers, air attack platforms and helicopters.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens will continue to help with evacuations and traffic control, and TPWD’s State Parks Division has firefighters supporting active fires in the Central Texas area.
The Texas Department of Public Safety will also help with evacuations, security, roving patrols, neighborhood reentry, damage assessments and aerial surveys of fire and tornado damage.
The Texas Department of Transportation is using signs on highways to alert the public of the fire danger. TxDOT personnel are on standby to respond to roads impacted by severe weather.
The Railroad Commission of Texas is communicating with gas utilities and pipeline companies to respond to wildfire issues if fires threaten supply to customers and will work with community assets to establish timelines for recovery if needed.