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January 24, 2013

Rain helped, but drought persists in county

GREENVILLE — The rain and snow we had earlier this month was nice, and helped to reduce the grass fire danger in the area.

But as January nears its end, the National Weather Service issued a reminder Thursday indicating that for Hunt County and much of Texas, the drought is far from over and is expected to get worse.

The latest drought information statement revealed that Majors Field, the City of Greenville Municipal Airport, had received 3.96 inches of precipitation so far this month, an increase of 1.21 inches above normal for January. That’s the good news.

But the airport had reported a total of  25.02 inches of precipitation since April 2012, almost 12 inches below the average for the nine month period.

And the statement also warned that almost all of the rain across the state came to an abrupt end on Jan. 15, the same day as a surprise snow storm hit Greenville and Hunt County.

The prospects for additional drought relief are not promising, as a weather pattern which is expected to develop during February will keep most of the storm systems well north of Texas and below normal precipitation is being predicted for throughout the upcoming spring season.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures soil moisture. A reading of 800 is the highest on the scale, meaning that it would take eight or more inches of rainfall to bring the soil to saturation.

Thursday, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 32 to 399, with an average across the county of 247.

Hunt County is not currently under a burn ban, although there are still certain restrictions to outdoor burning. The burning of household trash is only permissible during daylight hours and the wind speed cannot be greater then 23 mph. Natural materials, such as brush and limbs can be burned, but not treated or painted lumber.

No prohibited material — including but not limited to rubber, plastics, wire, insulation and furniture — can be burned, and a responsible person must be present during active burning.

As of Thursday evening, the National Weather Service forecast was calling for chances of showers and thunderstorms locally on Monday and Tuesday of next week.

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