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February 16, 2013

Drought numbers still higher than normal

GREENVILLE — Hunt County has seen some passing showers and a handful of thunderstorms this month, and there are a few stray puddles left on the ground from the recent rains.

But one measurement released this week reveals that Hunt County and much of Northeast Texas remains in the grip of significant drought conditions.

The water level on Lake Tawakoni remains down by more than four feet, as the region is still feeling the impact of one of the driest November-December periods in history.

The United States Drought Monitor, released Thursday, indicated Hunt County and the surrounding counties were listed under “severe” drought conditions. The drought monitor indicated the readings were taken Tuesday morning.

One year ago, the drought monitor revealed the county and the North Texas region had been elevated out of drought conditions for the first time in 20 months.

Majors Field, the City of Greenville Municipal Airport and the official monitoring site for Hunt County used by the National Weather Service, recorded almost four inches of rain during January and through Friday morning. The airport receives an average of six inches of rain during January and February time period.

The water level on Lake Tawakoni was reported at 433.08 feet Friday morning, compared to the pool elevation of 437.5 feet. Most area lakes are still recovering from a very dry fall 2012. Greenville received only 1.1 inches of precipitation during November and December, when it normally collected more than 7.5 inches of rain.

The rains which have fallen have been enough to keep the soil fairly wet. 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 Friday, the county’s readings under the index ranged from 9 to 364, with an average across the county of 229.

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.

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