Record-Tying Dry Spell Hits Texas


Monday, August 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


DALLAS (AP) — A history-making drought in North Texas has all the signs of continuing for days — or even weeks — and the rain forecast elsewhere in the state isn't much better.

With no precipitation in the forecast Monday, the record of 58 consecutive days without rain in the region — first set in 1934 — was vulnerable.

A rainless Sunday tied the record, which had been repeated in 1950.

``We will have the record all ourselves,'' said Lonnie King, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fort Worth.

The National Weather Service forecast this week calls for continued temperatures at or exceeding the century mark along with dry skies.

``We could very well have 65 to 70 days without rain,'' Michael Mach, another meteorologist in Fort Worth, said.

A 58-day drought interval first occurred in Texas May 25 to July 21, 1934 during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression.

``But one thing to keep in mind about 1934 was the streak was broken by 0.01 inches of rain — barely above a trace,'' said Mach.

The dry spell happened again Nov. 4 to Dec. 31, 1950.

This year's streak started July 1, and more heat and sunshine are forecast for the region, said Joe Harris, an NWS meteorologist in Fort Worth.

Statewide, agriculture and livestock producers estimate they've already lost $595 million this year to the parched conditions, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs said.

Few areas of Texas have escaped the drought. In Central Texas, a steady drop in the Edwards Aquifer has threatened supplies in San Antonio and surrounding cities that rely upon the underground reservoir. In the Houston area, many livestock ponds and small lakes are low or dry.

Northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, volunteer crews outside Throckmorton have been struggling to complete a pipeline to another town's reservoir. Throckmorton residents, who have not had rain since spring, are within weeks of losing their own water supply to the drought.

Cora Lee Brannon said her prized impatiens, begonias and even one of her oak trees have shriveled up and died this month on her one-acre property in the Fort Worth suburb of Southlake.

``Mother Nature is not kind in Texas,'' she said. ``Like everybody, it's been a struggle to keep the spring things alive. It just doesn't make any sense to try to keep them alive.''

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On the Net:

National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov