Drought Causes Problems for Several Industries

Mark Ethridge, Texas Forest Service
Mark Ethridge, Texas Forest Service

Over the past six months most of the Panhandle region has not even seen an inch of rain.

And several area industries say the dry conditions are dangerous for business and the public.

A lack of rain, and continuing winds are drying out soil and grass.

Creating major problems for both the agriculture industry and fire departments.

"When we have drought conditions this bad. Then the state brings in resources from other places," said Mark Ethridge the acting Regional Fire Coordinator for the Texas Forest Service.

Right now in the Panhandle there are 17 firefighters from five other states.

On hand because dry conditions could spark enormous fires at any moment.

"Make no mistake about it, it's still very dangerous. We've got plenty of fuel out there and with the wind driving the fire, it could run a couple miles an hour," said Ethridge.

This massive fire burned more than six thousand acres in four counties.

And four thousand of those acres were on Bill Arrington's land.

He runs a ranching operation and says he hasn't seen conditions this bad in 50 years.

"This year we haven't gotten any winter grazing off of our wheat to speak of," said Arrington, a rancher in Carson and Gray Counties and a member of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Board of Directors. "We're getting ready to lose our winter wheat crop just in the next two weeks if we don't get moisture."

By not having nutritious feed, Arrington says he's knows of many herds that have been liquidated.

And the outlook is not bright.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts the conditions to get worse in the Panhandle.

And Doppler Dave Oliver says there is an optimistic chance for a little moisture this week, but for the coming months there may not be enough to take us out of the current dry spell.