Texas drought worst in recent history

According to a new map, the drought in Texas is the worst it's been in 11 years. / File photo

A weather official says the degree of exceptional drought in Texas is the worst in the 11 years forecasters have tracked the data.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows more than a fourth of the state, 25.96 percent, is now in the most severe drought category. Exceptional drought means extraordinary and widespread crop and pasture losses, and shortages of water in reservoirs.

Victor Murphy of the National Weather Service says the percentage is the highest since January 2000, when the map debuted.

Above-normal temperatures and below-average rainfall from a La Nina weather pattern have been compounded by unusually strong winds in recent months.

The tinder-dry conditions have spawned thousands of wildfires that since November have killed two firefighters, scorched about 2.3 million acres and destroyed about 400 homes.