All of Schleicher County is suffering from drought conditions ranging from moderate to extreme, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map released by the Texas Water Development Board on Monday, September 30, 2019.

Extreme drought conditions began in the northernmost part of central Schleicher County and extended north across much of Tom Green, Runnels, Taylor and Jones Counties. Smaller potions of Concho, Coke, Callahan and Shackleford Counties are affected as well.

Other portions of West Texas, extending north from the Del Rio area, across the Concho Valley and up to the Red River and South Plains areas are experiencing drought conditions ranging from moderate to severe.

Meanwhile, portions of the northern Permian Basin and most of the Trans-Pecos area are not included in the drought advisory.

Here in Schleicher County, firefighters have battled a series of wildfires, including one that began Monday night in the northern part of the county on County Road 430, west of the Huldale Switch disposal well facility. The Eldorado Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire and quickly called for help from the Christoval Fire Department as strong winds drove the blaze northward.

Texas Forest Service firefighters arrived Tuesday morning to assist with the fire and by Tuesday afternoon Fire Chief Joey Jones said the blaze was under control. He also noted that the fire scorched more than 200 acres on the ranches formerly owned by Raymond and Henry Mittel.

National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Wiley of San Angelo said on Tuesday that he did not expect any significant rainfall in the next few days.

“September tied for being the driest on record,” Wiley said.

And, Wiley did not expect an approaching cold front that is expected to bring much relief.

“This could be our first real cooling this season and we might see some moisture early next week, but not enough to be considered a drought-buster,” Wiley added.

Jon Cartwright, manager of the Plateau Underground Water Conservation & Control District, said that the aquifer lying beneath the county is still in good shape when compared to last year.

Schleicher County received a lot of rain beginning in the fall of 2018 and continued into the early months of 2019. Many people reported annual rainfall totals of 30-40 inches, and in some cases, even more.

Now, about a year after the historic rainfall totals, drought conditions have returned with a vengeance.

Not to worry – at least not yet – says Cartwright. Water levels are still significantly higher than a year ago in the wells that he routinely monitors.

He noted that spring-flows coming out of the Edwards-Trinity aquifer are feeding several streams and creeks, including Pecan Creek that flows into the South Concho River.

“The aquifer is beginning to bleed down,” Cartwright said. “But, we’re still doing OK.”