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Texas Tops 10 States Ravaged by Extreme Weather in 2011

No. 1 Texas

In 2011, Texas broke records: hottest summer ever, worst one-year drought and largest wildfire season. The resulting agricultural loss and damage climbed to a staggering $10 billion. Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images. 

Texas was hit by eight of the nation’s billion dollar disasters - the most of any state in the country. Of the eight, the three most devastating were drought, heat, and wildfires. The drought still grips the state, and it is the most intense one-year drought on record. Unlike past dry periods, the damage to the state has been aggravated by record-breaking heat. Groundwater levels in much of the state have fallen to their lowest levels in more than 60 years, according to observations from NASA satellites. 

The heat during the summer of 2011 was relentless, with many cities smashing records for the longest stretch of 100-degree days, including Dallas with a record 70 straight days with 100-degree heat, and San Angelo with a whopping 98 days above 100. July 2011 was the hottest month ever recorded statewide, and Amarillo, Texas reached 111 degrees on June 26, an all-time record high for that location where records date back to 1892.

The combination of drought and unusually hot conditions during this summer helped fuel massive wildfires, and the 2011 wildfire season was the worst in Texas’ history, with about 4 million acres burned from November 2010 through November 2011, causing $750 million in damage and killing 10 people, including four firefighters. 

Lake and reservoir levels have fallen so low that they are revealing entire towns flooded decades ago at the bottom of lakes and reservoirs. Ranchers have been forced to sell off large portions of their herds early, which is likely to raise beef prices by reducing future beef supplies.  

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