By BRAD KELLAR
Even with the scattered thunderstorms earlier this week, almost all of Hunt County remains locked in extreme drought conditions.
A ban on outdoor burning is still in effect, as are water usage restrictions across the region as reservoir levels continue to drop.
There is some limited hope on the horizon, as slight chances for rain and cooler temperatures are in the forecast.
The level on Lake Tawakoni Friday morning was listed at 429.05 feet, down 8.45 feet below the spillway and approaching the all-time lowest level seen on reservoir — 424.9 feet — which was recorded on Dec. 29, 2006. Lake Tawakoni was reported to be 67.7 percent full Friday.
Hunt County has been under a ban on outdoor burning since Aug. 12. Under the ban no outdoor burning is permitted in the unincorporated areas of the county, including the burning of household garbage. This order does not restrict the outdoor use of welding, cutting torches and other similar tools, provided a separate individual is present to observe for fires and sparks and to have some type of fire extinguisher present. The order does not prohibit outdoor cooking, but it does restrict the cooking activities to an enclosed apparatus designed for cooking purposes.
A total of 151 counties across Texas — including Collin, Fannin, Hopkins, Kaufman, Lamar, Rockwall and Van Zandt counties — were listed under bans on outdoor burning Friday.
Cities served by the North Texas Municipal Water District are currently under Stage 3 outdoor watering restrictions, which means residential and business customers are limited to landscape watering with sprinkler or irrigation systems once every seven days. Other restrictions apply, depending on the city.
The city of Greenville is currently under Stage 2 water restrictions.
Landscape irrigation is limited to Sundays and Thursdays for customers with a street address ending in an even number and Saturdays and Wednesdays for customers with a street address ending in an odd number. Landscape irrigation is permitted at anytime with a hand-held hose, a faucet-filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system.
The latest readings for the United States Drought Monitor indicate all but the northernmost edge of Hunt County are under extreme drought conditions.
The measurements were taken Tuesday, prior to scattered storms which crossed portions of the county Wednesday afternoon and evening.
However, the rains did little to alleviate the drought numbers.
A reading of 800 under the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is the highest on the scale, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.
Friday morning, Hunt County’s readings under the index ranged from 686 to 757 with an average across the county of 714.
The National Weather Service forecast included a slight 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for Hunt County between Monday and Wednesday of next week.