drought

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Parts of Texas have grown drier as a lack of substantial rains and windy conditions have led to less moisture in the soil. The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday indicates more of West Texas slipped back into the worst drought stage the past week.

Credit: jmtimages (cc) flickr

A federal judge has told Republican leaders in Texas to plan as though the state's primary will be May 29 because the long-running dispute over redistricting likely won't allow for it to be held any earlier.

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Jerry Smith on Wednesday did not officially set that as the new primary date. But the judge's guidance virtually extinguishes any chance of Texas holding an April primary.

A primary in May or later risks making Texas irrelevant in choosing the Republican presidential nominee.

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Dallas-Fort Worth is officially no longer in a drought – the first region in the state to see that designation lifted. But, KERA’s BJ Austin says water restrictions are still in effect.

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Dallas-Fort Worth is the first major metropolitan area in Texas to apparently emerge from the state's historic drought.

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The Dallas City Council gets a drought update today. KERA’s BJ Austin says part of that discussion is expected to be about selling water to those with slimmer resources.

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The National Weather Service says 2011 was Texas' driest year on record as well as its second hottest.

The agency said Friday the average rainfall for the drought-stricken state last year was 14.88 inches. The previous driest average total was in 1917 with 14.99 inches.

The weather service says 2011's average temperature was 67.2 degrees. Texas' warmest year on record was in 1921 with an average temperature of 67.5 degrees.

Gov. Perry has renewed a proclamation declaring Texas a disaster due to the drought. The proclamation allows municipalities to apply for state assistance in dealing with the drought's impacts, including fighting and recovering from wildfires.

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It looks like the drought is here to stay. KERA’s Jacqueline Fellows says as many as 50 cities and towns across North Texas may not be able to water lawns at all this summer.

Daniel James

Preliminary estimates from the Texas Forest Service show the year-long drought in Texas may have claimed as many as a half-billion trees.

The agency surveyed forestry professionals from regions around Texas, which has a total tree population of about 4.9 billion. Researchers analyzing the information have determined from 100 million to 500 million, or from 2 to 10 percent of all trees, have been lost.

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State sales tax revenue was up 12.2 percent last month in Texas.That's compared to receipts from the previous November. Texas Comptroller Susan Combs announced the figures Wednesday.

She says it marks the 20th consecutive month of revenue growth. Sales taxes are one of the largest sources of revenue for the state and a 2009 slump contributed to this year's state budget shortfall.

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