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    Driest Nine-Month Period in Texas History Fuels Drought

    By By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
    July 27, 2011, 6:15:44 AM EDT

    Residents of Texas are hoping for a pattern change to alleviate some of the drought. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be in the works any time soon.

    Texas has officially experienced the driest nine-month period in the states history between October of 2010 and June 2011 according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. This beat the previous record of June 1917 to February 1918.

    The substantial dry period has led to widespread extreme to exceptional drought conditions throughout the state. The state of the drought is nearing record levels itself, with this one being ranked as the third worst in Texas history.

    The worst of the drought is found in central and western Texas where precipitation deficits over the last 10 months exceed 20 inches in some areas.

    Below is a chart showing selected cities and their associated rainfall amounts:

    City Actual Precip. Since Jan. 1 Normal Precip. Since Jan. 1 Percent of Normal
    Houston 9.34" 26.55" 35%
    Austin 7.95" 18.87" 42%
    El Paso 1.13" 3.67" 30%
    Waco 11.03" 19.07" 58%
    San Antonio 6.55" 18.48" 35%

    Some of the worst numbers are found in West Texas, where Midland and Lubbock have received less than 11 percent of their normal rainfall for the year so far.

    Despite some temporary shifts in the persistent ridge of high pressure over the coming weeks, the drought is expected to worsen the remainder of July and into August.

    This outlook is not good news as the state's reservoirs and aquifers are declining at alarmingly high rates. According to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, statewide reservoir capacity has fallen below 70 percent.

    Not only are reservoirs throughout the state suffering, but the agricultural industry is being slammed by the exceptionally dry conditions.


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    Cattle raisers are being forced to thin their herds due to the lack of grass and hay, as well as the low water supply.

    Of course, the dry conditions are also leading to a record wildfire season. According to the Texas Forest Service, a record 3.3 million acres of land have been burned since mid-November by more than 15,000 wildfires.

    While the persistent ridge is expected to keep the extremely dry conditions in place, the only hope to really break this pattern is to have a tropical system move through the Gulf of Mexico into southeastern Texas. This would put a dent in the ridge, all while adding copious amounts of moisture to the central and eastern parts of the state.

    The tropical outlook for this week doesn't appear all that favorable for development even though AccuWeather.com meteorologists are monitoring a tropical wave moving through the Caribbean islands. However, it doesn't appear that development will occur any time soon due to the interactions with land and the wind shear in place.

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