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September 19, 2013

Welcome rainfall expected tonight

GREENVILLE — Hunt County and North Texas could see the first significant and widespread rainfall in weeks, starting tonight and lasting into Friday.

Some locations could see up to an inch of precipitation from the showers and thunderstorms which are predicted to arrive in the region later today, although the rain which does fall is not likely to do much to relieve the extreme drought conditions.

The rains will also not lead to a lifting of Hunt County’s ban on outdoor burning, according to Hunt County Fire Marshal Richard Hill.

“The fuel load, the grasses, right now are very, very dry,” Hill said.

The National Weather Service forecast was calling for a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, starting this evening, followed by an 80 percent chance of storms overnight and into Friday. The high Friday is forecast to only reach 82 degrees, with a 40 percent chance of rain Friday night and a low of 67 degrees.

The weather for Saturday’s first full day of the Rally ‘Round Greenville is expected to be just about perfect, with mostly sunny skies, a high near 85 and light north to northeast winds.

But the rains, while welcome, will not be enough to call for a lifting of the burn ban which has been in place locally since August 12. Hill said any heavy rains which fall will make it more difficult for firefighters to get to some locations due to muddy roads and fields.

A total of 155 Texas counties were reported Wednesday by the Texas A&M Forest Service as being under bans on outdoor burning. The list also included Collin, Delta, Fannin, Hopkins, Kaufman, Lamar, Rains, Rockwall and Van Zandt counties.

Under the Hunt County burn 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.

Hunt County remains under an extreme drought. 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. Hunt County’s readings under the index as of Wednesday afternoon ranged from 692 to 776 with an average across the county of 747.

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