AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to prepare additional state resources for mobilization as Texans face critical-to-extreme wildfire weather conditions in the Western half of the state and severe storm threats in the Eastern half of the state. The Texas State Emergency Operations Center (SOC) is operating at Level II: Escalated Response in support of severe weather and wildfire response.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak is possible today, April 12, in the Texas Panhandle. This event may impact communities near Canadian, Amarillo, Childress, Lubbock, and Midland where extremely dry vegetation will be subjected to above normal temperatures, low humidity, and high wind speeds. A heightened threat of fire danger through Wednesday includes the Panhandle, South Plains, Permian Basin, West Texas, Big Country, Concho Valley, Texoma, and the Border Region.
The increased risk of severe storms brings potential for large hail, damaging winds, tornados, and flash flooding in North, Central, and East Texas through Wednesday.
“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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 following state agencies sent representatives to the SOC starting at 10 a.m. (Tuesday, April 12) alongside TDEM:
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX)
Texas A&M Forest Service (TAMFS)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)
Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC)
Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC)
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Texas Military Department (TMD)
TAMFS has activated more than 325 state firefighters, 175 local firefighters from 56 different departments through the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System (TIFMAS) including 45 engines, and has called in more than 100 firefighters from 12 states. TAMFS is utilizing more than 35 aviation resources including 3 large airtankers, 15 single engine air tankers, six air attack platforms, and five type 1 helicopters.
TPWD Game Wardens have assisted and will continue to aid in evacuations and traffic control, and TPWD’s State Parks Division has firefighters supporting active fires in the Central Texas area.
DPS continues to support the state’s response to wildfires and severe weather by assisting with evacuations, security, roving patrols, neighborhood reentry, damage assessments, and aerial surveys of fire and tornado damage.
TxDOT is using Electronic Messaging Signs on highways to alert the public of the high fire danger, and TxDOT personnel are on standby to respond with crews to clear roads impacted by severe weather.
RRC 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.
PUCT reminds citizens to never approach or touch downed power lines, as the lines could still be live. Also, report downed lines or outages to local authorities and local utility officials. Texans can find contact information to report down lines and monitor power outage maps on the PUCT Storm Resources page, puc.texas.gov/storm/contact.html.
The Texas Emergency Management Task Force (TX EMTF) has three severe weather support packages and three wildland fire support packages on standby should they need to be activated.
Texans can visit tdem.texas.gov/ and click on the Spring Wildfires button for wildfire resource information, and ready.gov/severe-weather for severe storm safety tips.