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Drought, heat predicted to plague Tx

As heat records continue to fall, forecasters predict drought may continue through 2012

AUSTIN, Texas (UPI) | August 24, 2011

Texas climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says it's likely at least parts of the state will have severe drought again next summer, and maybe beyond that.

Nielsen-Gammon said water supply problems could be even worse than they are now, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday.

The Texas A&M University climatologist correctly predicted the onset of a significant drought last October because of an atmospheric phenomenon known as La Nina that produced unusually cold ocean temperatures.

During a La Nina winter, Texas generally experiences mild temperatures and drier-than-normal weather.

Nielsen-Gammon said chance favors at least parts of Texas continuing to experience a drought that will stretch on for two or more years.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said 796 communities across the state are now limiting water use, including 506 which have issued mandatory restrictions.

As of August, the state's reservoirs were at 68 percent capacity.

The hot and dry weather broke another record Wednesday when the Texas capital broke its record for the number of days in a summer when the temperature rose to 100 degrees or more.

At 2 p.m., the temperature at Camp Mabry in Austin hit the century mark, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The mercury was still rising with the National Weather Service saying it could go as high as 105 degrees.

That made the day the 70th 100-degree day this summer. On Tuesday, Austin tied its previous record of 69 set in 1925.

Houston racked up its 23rd 100-degree day Tuesday, the Houston Chronicle reported. The city has also set a record this summer.

Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority, told the American-Statesman records are likely to be shattered, not just broken, by the time the heat wave ends. He said the hot weather is likely to continue into early September.

The National Weather Service has been warning Texans of dangerous fire conditions and reminding them that heat is the deadliest form of weather.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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