From a record-setting drought and raging wildfires (that claimed much of Bastrop, whose water tower is pictured above) to the end of the space shuttle program and the UT-A&M football rivalry (well, maybe), 2011 was a memorable year for Texas. Here are ten photos of the moments and themes that defined the last twelve months.
Roof of Southwest Airlines Plane Tears Open
Passengers on Southwest Flight 812 had a major scare on April 1 when a section of fuselage tore open while the plane was cruising at 35,000 feet. The Boeing 737, which was en route from Phoenix to Sacramento, made a safe an emergency landing at Yuma International Airport. Southwest ended up grounding 79 airplanes to inspect them for cracks. (Ross D. Franklin | Associated Press)
Wildfires near the McDonald Observatory
2011 will be remembered as the year Texas burned, with more than three million acres of the state going up in flames. Here, the Texas Forest Service’s controlled burns light up the skies in the Davis Mountains on April 17. The McDonald Observatory’s Hobby-Eberly Telescope dome can be seen in the foreground. (Frank Cianciolo | McDonald Observatory.)
School Finance Battle
Teachers, parents, and students protested against cuts to Texas public schools in the rotunda of the state capitol on June 4 during the special legislative session. Lawmakers ultimately slashed more than $4 billion from public education budgets, one of largest cuts in state history. (Eric Gay | Associated Press)
Mavericks Win NBA Title
Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki hoists the championship trophy into the air after the Mavericks bested the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on June 12. (Tom DiPace | Associated Press)
Final Space Shuttle Mission
Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off on July 8, the 135th and final space shuttle mission in NASA
’s thirty-year space shuttle program. (Scott A. Miller | Associated Press)
Record-breaking Drought Takes Its Toll on Texas
The drought, which began in October 2010, was the worst one-year drought in state history since historians began keeping records in 1895. Diminished water levels in Benbrook Lake, south of Fort Worth, left dead fish scattered on the parched lakebed and sailboats parked at waterless docks. ( LM Otero | Associated Press)
Texas Rangers Lose World Series
A day after twice coming within spitting distance of a World Series title, the Texas Rangers lost 2-6 in Game 7 of the World Series on October 28 in St.