Officials warn of lingering drought conditions

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Drought conditions for North Texas and Denton County are approaching severely dry stages as a result of the areas receiving little rainfall during the autumn months, and officials do not expect conditions to get better anytime soon.

Current drought conditions in Denton and the surrounding area are expected to continue into 2013, according to the National Weather Service. The Denton County Emergency Services officials have said that the county is in moderate fire danger.

Jamie Moore, Denton County emergency services spokesman, said it’s not unusual for the county to receive minimal rain during the winter, but an unusually dry fall makes conditions more dangerous.

Winter officially begins Dec. 21.

“There are two fire seasons in Texas, and we’re in the second one,” he said. “Some people don’t think about winter as a fire season because it’s not necessarily fire season for the rest of the nation.”

Moore said people are more likely to be aware of drought conditions and fire dangers during the summer because they receive more news coverage nationally.

Moore said it’s important to be aware that fires in the winter can spread just as quickly as fires during a dry summer.

He said residents should rake their leaves and keep their lawns cut short.

During the winter, plants and leaves dry and wither, becoming fuel for potential fires, Moore said.

“Clean out your gutters and don’t place firewood along the outside walls of your home,” he said. “They create fuel for fires and exponentially increase the chances that a fire will spread.”

And Moore warns residents to always call 911 in case of a fire.

“People should never try to put the fire out by themselves,” he said.

November marked the second consecutive month with minimal precipitation in North Texas and although water supplies are adequate, resources continue to decline.

In Denton, rain has also been scarce, with the city receiving minimal rainfall and falling below its normal average, according to weather service records.

According to the weather service, some meteorologists expect some rain during the first half of December. But officials are skeptical that enough rain will fall during the winter to ease drought conditions.

A countywide burn ban is also in effect by the Commissioners Court, prohibiting any outdoor burning or open flames. Denton County joins 110 Texas counties that have also enacted bans, including Tarrant, Wise and Grayson.

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is jharden@dentonrc.com.


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