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January 1, 2013

Snow, rains help ease local drought numbers

GREENVILLE — Hunt County is starting 2013 on a wet note.

The snowfall and rains during the last week of 2012 significantly reduced drought numbers in the area. While much of the county still needs to see some precipitation, the soil in at least some locations had come close to the saturation point as of Monday.

Four inches of snow fell Christmas Day, and about another half-inch of rain was recorded in Greenville Monday morning.

Two weeks ago, Hunt County was on the verge of being placed under a ban on outdoor burning, due to the drought.

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.

As of mid-December, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 496 to 659, with an average across the county of 592.

Hunt County Fire Marshal Richard Hill has indicated there would be a need for a ban on outdoor burning if the county’s average under the index reached 600 or higher.

As of Monday, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 209 to 560, with an average of 461.

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.

Collin, Fannin, Lamar and Rockwall counties remained under bans on outdoor burning as of Monday afternoon.

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