The lingering impacts of 2011, when Texas endured the worst one-year drought in state history, are part of the problem, said Mark Svoboda, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
"We climbed up on the fence but we never really got off the fence," he said of the drought. "It's a very fast tumble off of recovery back into the depths of drought."
All it took was a couple of months of below average rainfall for the U.S. Drought Monitor map Svoboda helps put together each week to begin registering significant problems for a state that is the nation's No. 1 cattle producer and a significant agricultural machine.
The latest map released Thursday, shows nearly 55 percent of Texas in severe drought, up from just over 40 percent last week. A severe drought is the third of five stages of drought reported by the Drought Monitor.
About 24.5 percent of Texas, including Houston and Fort Worth, is now in an extreme drought, the fourth stage, up from 23 percent last week. Overall, more than 80 percent of the state is in some form of drought, a 5 percent increase from a week ago.
"We keep waiting for a decent rainstorm to appear in the forecast, but it doesn't look like there's any in the next week," Nielsen-Gammon, the state climatologist, said.
Food prices are going to be impacted by the drought in Texas as it combines with the problems caused by the widespread dry spell plaguing the Midwest, Central Plains and the South, Svoboda added. Beef prices could rise to $6.75 a pound by next month, and the price of hay — crucial forage for the cattle industry — is skyrocketing. Concern among Texas planners that water may be a problem in 2013 is also justified, he said.