First City Emerges From Texas Drought

By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI | February 6, 2012

For millions of people, one of the most severe droughts in Texas history is no longer a concern – for now.

The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map posted online Thursday classifies the Dallas-Fort Worth area as officially out of drought for the first time since July, making it Texas’ first major metropolitan area to emerge from the most severe one-year drought in state history.

But meteorologists and climatologists warn the situation remains precarious. Nearly 60 percent of the state remains in severe or exceptional stages of drought.

“It’s still a very tenuous situation,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy.”Water concerns are a high priority. If we have a dry spring and a hot summer it will be very perilous situation.”

For Texas, the situation is dire because of its size. The state makes up nearly 7 percent of the continental United States and the severity of the drought has an effect on the entire U.S., touching everything from cattle numbers to bird migration and the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Texas ranchers have culled their herds, causing a significant drop in the U.S. cattle population that will likely cause beef prices to rise in coming years.

Drought descended on Texas, parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Louisiana about a year ago. Since then, the region has seen rainfall decline in some places to half the norm, or even less.

The Drought Monitor is a map compiled by the University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center in cooperation with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and several other agencies.

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