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Forecasters: Texas drought may persist for another year
"The suffering and desperate need for relief grows with the rising temperatures and record-breaking heat that continue to scorch Texas with each passing day," state Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples said.
Even the state's feral hogs are hiding from the heat, postponing a new reality TV show about Texans gunning them down from helicopters.
Texas saw less than an inch of rain statewide in July, and more than 90 percent of the state is already in the two most extreme stages of drought.
"Anything below 2 to 3 inches of rainfall would be a fly-on-the-windshield type thing as far as improvement," said Victor Murphy, a climate expert with the National Weather Service. "It wouldn't reverse this continued death spiral we're on."
Also Thursday, the state climatologist declared this the most severe one-year drought on record in Texas. Officials expected to declare soon that it has become the worst drought since the 1950s.
A newly updated weather map showed the drought holding firm — if not intensifying — through at least October.
In Dallas, county officials say at least 13 people have died from the heat this summer. The high temperature Thursday was expected to hit 109 degrees, which would be a record for the date.
Statewide demand for power was expected to approach the maximum Thursday for a fourth straight day. Some large industrial plants were forced off the overburdened electric grid, requiring them to shut down or rely on their own power reserves.
And for the first time this summer, utilities warned residential customers of the potential for rolling outages.
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