New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 31, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 6A — Herald-Zehung — Saturday, December 31, 2005_ DROUGHT
CONTINUED FROM Page 1ALosses could top $1 billion next year
drought conditions could mean $1 billion in lost livestock by next spring, Texas Cooperative Extension officials said.
The region is as much as 15 inches behind its normal annual rainfall, said Travis Miller, an agricultural agent with the cooperative extension office.
“Even if we get rain soon, there will be little winter pasture,” Miller said.
East Texas ranchers usually plant as many as I million acres of winter pasture to supplement diets for cows and calves, which helps reduce winter feed bills, Miller said.
Spring planting for summer crops in Central and South Texas also could take a hit if winter rain needed for soil moisture doesn’t
come, he said.
“With the increased price of fuel, fertilizer and seeds, the risk will be greater than in past years,” Miller said.
Far West Texas, most of which endured a drought from the mid- 1990s through 2003, had good rains last year and fared well up until a dry spell in October. In Fort Stockton, 20 inches of rain has fallen for the year, about 33 percent above average.
The High Plains started the year above normal and got good rains through August. Since then, though, rainfall has dipped below normal. “Now you’re being back to being dry as a bone,” Murphy said.
In the South Plains area, cotton producers remain busy bringing in their portion of what is expected to be another record crop.
But without rainfall this winter, cotton yields will probably go back to normal in 2006, said Carl Anderson, professor emeritus with
Texas Cooperative Extension.
Last year, Texas producers broke a 55-year record, bringing in 7.78 million bales.
They are projected to break that record again this year, with projections showing a harvest of 7.84 million bales.
Looking ahead to 2006, the concern is whether rainfall in the next three months will be enough to get the state through dry spring months, said John Nielsen-Gammon, the state’s climatologist at Texas A&M University.
“It’s going to be critical if we don’t have those storms come along,” he said.
If the drought persists, control measures could be implemented, including mandatory restrictions on outside watering.
“The answer to drought is a change in the jet stream, move it south,” Miller said. “As long as it stays where it is we’re in trouble."MAJOR DROUGHTS IN TEXAS
■ 1909-1918: Severe drought across the state. 1917 is the doest year on record.____
■1931-39: Dust Bowl days when drought choked most of the Great Plains._
■ 1950-1957: The worst drought since the beginning of detailed record-keeping. It was uninterrupted by a single "wet" year. By the end of 1956, 244 of Texas' 254 counties were classified as disaster areas.
■ 1970s: Several less severe and short droughts occurred in the 1970s. __
■ 1980s: A massive heat wave started a severe drought that blistered most ofTexas during the early 1980s. It reached extreme proportions in the Pecos River Valley in 1983.
■ 1996-2000: Drought led to agriculture losses of more than $5 billion statewide.
■ 2002: Drought in Trans Pecos, West Texas, Lower Rio Grande Valley.
■ 2003: Drought in Rio Grande Valley, Trans Pecos.
■ 2005: Drought conditions in South, Central and Northeast Texas.
Judge grants Reagan assailant overnight visits
Sources: State Historical Association, Water Foundation, Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M University.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge Friday loosened the restrictions on John W. Hinckley Jr., allowing the hos-pitalized presidential assailant to spend seven overnight visits with his parents in Williamsburg, Va.
Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, had been permitted to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington for outings around the nation’s capital. He wanted to make longer trips and travel outside the area to his parents' community in southeastern Virginia.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled Hinckley could be allowed three, three-night visits and another four, four-night visits.
“He is not permitted to leave one or both parents’ supervision at any time during the course of the condi
tional release” except when the hospital deems it necessary, Friedman ruled.
The government had opposed Hinckley’s requests to visit Williamsburg, a three-hour drive from the forensic hospital.
When Hinckley shot Reagan and three other people in 1981 as the president emerged from a downtown hotel, he was suffering from major depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster.
Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.
Since last year, Hinckley has been allowed occasional local overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths Hospital.
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