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Keeping with the trend of the last few months, the drought has been the major story throughout April. With much of the state, notably the southern half and the High Plains, seeing less than half of its normal monthly rainfall, and the summer heat looming on the horizon, water concerns are growing. School districts in the Panhandle, such as Amarillo ISD, have begun to pay nearly double the water rate from a few years ago. In Wichita Falls, it is looking more and more likely that a Stage 5 drought declaration will be issued which will ban pools from being filled and close car washes two days a week. In all, 240 of the 252 counties in Texas qualified for federal drought disaster assistance by the end of April.

Agriculture hasn’t fared well this month either. In addition to the continued lack of rain, a variety of other obstacles have struck the Panhandle’s winter wheat crops. A late season freeze occurred over multiple days, dropping temperatures to the high 20s. Continued dust storms, sourced from several different locations, have reduced visibility enough to cause several multi-car pile-ups and coast planting fields in several layers of dust. Crop watering has slowed due to water shortages in municipalities, meaning the wheat and cotton crops in the High Plains are in particular danger.

Though it didn’t rain much, the storms that did come through came in with a punch. Three tornado touchdowns occurred over the month, two in an outbreak on April 3rd in North Texas, and one on April 13 in East Texas, though with only moderate damage and there was no loss of life. The storm system on the 3rd caused significant hail damage in Denton when baseball sized hail fell downtown.
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