Official: Drought looms despite rain

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    The drought in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has caused many widespread wildfires, but the region could soon face more serious effects even after Sunday’s rain, said representatives from the National Weather Service.Steve Fano, a representative of the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office, said that aside from the apparent wildfires, the region is beginning to see other major problems caused by the drought.

    “Ranchers are being forced to move their cattle out of the area or truck in hay,” Fano said. “Without rain, they can’t grow an adequate food supply.”

    Vick Corbelli, another representative of the National Weather Service, said Sunday’s rainfall really will not change the drought situation.

    “We’re going to need a few weeks of rain to make up what we’ve lost,” Corbelli said.

    Fano said recreation on area lakes is also becoming difficult because lake levels are too low to access the ramps.

    Although there are no current water rationing rules in effect, Fano said, they will be a certainty in the next few months if the amount of rainfall does not increase.

    Forecasters say the area has several chances for more rain in the next week.

    Fano said this drought is comparable to severe droughts in the past.

    “This is not something we haven’t seen before, but it’s been about 10 years,” Fano said.

    According to the Texas Water Development Board, the last two major droughts occurred in this region in 1996 and 1998.

    Michael Slattery, an associate professor of geology and director of the environmental science program, said the drought will eventually lead to water shortages and a reliance on surface water sources.

    Many north Texas cities use underground aquifers to supply at least some water to their residents.

    “We are going to begin seeing vulnerable soils and foundation problems,” Slattery said.

    Some local homeowners are already feeling the effects of the drought.

    Arlington homeowner Jason Ward said his lawn is beginning to suffer.

    “I went out in our backyard a couple of days ago, and there was a crack in the ground about seven inches wide,” Ward said. “It’s just so dry there isn’t a point in watering it anymore.”

    Ward said he feels fortunate he is not seeing any more serious effects of the drought.

    “There was a wildfire that was less than a mile from our house,” Ward said. “That’s just a little too close for comfort.”

    Fano said some area homeowners are also experiencing cracking cement and foundation problems.

    Robert Sulak, head of the Physical Plant’s grounds department, said TCU has not seen any major effects related to the drought, but that he anticipates some dry grass in the spring.

    “We’re starting to water the trees and the ground covers a little more to keep them moisturized,” Sulak said.

    The region did see some relief Sunday with widespread rains soaking most of the D/FW area. However, the small amount of rainfall will not relieve the area of its drought status.