U.S. Water News Online
DALLAS -- With not even a hint of rain to settle the dust,
North Texas has entered its third month without moisture -- longer
than the record-setting dry spell during the Dust Bowl days of the
Lawns in Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond are burned, farmers and
ranchers have lost an estimated $595 million and reservoirs are
shrinking fast, even though rainfall for the year is close to normal.
And the forecast doesn't hold a hint of a sprinkle, let alone a
good gully washer.
"You just keep pouring water on the yard, and it keeps turning
brown," said Molly Gneiting, who lives in the Fort Worth suburb of
North Richland Hills. "Every morning I water the flowers. If I miss
just once, you can tell it by the afternoon."
"It looks like the middle of winter. Everything's brown," said
Rayford Pullen, agricultural extension agent for Montague County, a
largely agricultural area along the Red River.
In the town of Throckmorton, hundreds of volunteers spent their
vacations digging ditches for a pipeline to bring water from another
town because their own reservoir had fallen too low to supply
Lou Hyde and her husband, Ted, bought their home at Lake Arrowhead
near Wichita Falls so their children and grandchildren would have a
place to swim and fish.
"Even the cranes don't go out to fish anymore," she said. "Every
morning when we get up and look out, there is less and less water."
"What we need is a good steady rain," said Polly Drozd, whose
family owns a marina on Lake Lewisville near Dallas, where the water
level has dropped 15 feet. "Not just a day or two of rain, but a real
steady rain for a week or two."
But none is expected. "Even the long-range forecast doesn't look
good," said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fox.
Even cloud-seeding in hopes of bringing rain to the Texas
Panhandle was on hold -- there weren't any clouds to seed.
"The 9th of August was the last time we've seen anything," said
Shea Lea Clower, meteorologist for the "precipitation enhancement"
Still, the Dust Bowl years were much worse.
That previous record of 58 days without rain, set in 1934 and tied
in 1950, was only broken by one-one-hundredth of an inch of rain.
"It was terrible. It was a horrible time," said Bill Green, a
curator at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon. "Dirt
drifted up and covered barbed-wire fences. Conditions were much worse
than they are today because we have learned a lot about soil
conservation in 70 years."
And despite the dry spell, North Texas has received 21.19 inches
of rain since Jan. 1, only about an inch below normal, mostly because
of a wet June.
"I think it's kind of an overstatement to compare it with the Dust
Bowl," Green said. "We have periodic droughts. Everybody worries,
everybody prays. It rains, and everybody gets over it."
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