Weather conditions across the Lone Star State are getting more extreme and more dangerous by the year, according to a new report from Texas A&M University professor and State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.

The newly updated assessment of extreme weather in Texas draws on data from 1900-2023 to predict trends through the year 2036, and shows a significant uptick in extreme temperatures and droughts, wildfire conditions and urban flooding risks, among other changes. The report was authored by Nielsen-Gammon, a Regents Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, in collaboration with the nonprofit public policy organization Texas 2036.

“We have national climate assessments, but they can’t do justice to Texas’ specific climate conditions,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “With this Texas-specific study, we focused on observed trends as much as possible rather than emphasizing climate model projections. The historic climate trends are part of our lived experience in Texas, and our report puts them in long-term context.”

In recent years, Texans have come face-to-face with the realities of a warming climate, sweating through record-breaking heat waves and lengthy droughts that have taken a toll on agricultural and water resources in many parts of the state.

“During the past couple of years, we’ve gone through two of the hottest summers on record,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “That has altered the trend of 100-degree days, making the increase even more dramatic than it had been. We’ve also seen new research that indicates that surface water supplies might be becoming less reliable, with increasing evaporative losses coupled with increasingly erratic rainfall.”

According to the report, those trends are expected to continue and intensify, with Texans in 2036 experiencing quadruple the number of 100-degree days compared to the 1970s and 1980s. The report also predicts a 7% increase in water lost through summertime evaporation by 2036.

All that hot, dry weather also makes the state more susceptible to wildfires, like the ones that broke out in the Texas Panhandle in February. As the report notes, the number of days with highly favorable conditions for fires to spread has already been increasing, most notably in West Texas.

Read the full article about fire and flooding risk by Luke Henkhaus at Environmental News Network.