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November caps off what has been one of the driest October-November time periods in Texas history. Frequent frontal passages throughout the first two-thirds of the month helped keep temperatures down somewhat, but this effect has been mostly confined to Eastern Texas, and the end of the month had an extended period of well- above average temperatures, hastening the developing short-term drought problems across the state. One of the biggest concerns this time of year is the winter wheat crop, and the lack of rain in the short term is taking its toll: between 40 and 45 percent of all Texas winter wheat is rated as poor or very poor and that number is increasing rapidly. Additionally, grasslands continue to dry out, making it difficult for ranchers to put their herds out. On the positive side, pecan farmers are expected to have above normal harvests this year—67 million pounds compared to the 52 million pound average.

Continuing from previous months is the speculation about water supply going into the future. Surface water declines have driven many meetings and symposia, as water supplies continue to decline during a period of recharge or maintenance, such as in Corpus Christi, whose total water supply is at 40.6 percent. The city of El Paso currently is planning to drill nine new wells to meet water demands at a cost of $3.5 million. Other plans include a new pipeline between Stillhouse Hollow and Belton Lakes, estimated to cost approximately $500 million, diverting water from the Colorado River that would normally be reserved for rice farmers, and instituting water restrictions.

The previously mentioned frontal passages have also had minor impacts. Rain has been sparse, but lightning has caused some damage, including two fires in Leon Valley and Lufkin early in the month. Freeze warnings following these events were issued for many regions of the state, including the year’s first in El Paso. The cooler temperatures were expected to have a positive effect on human health as mosquitos, which had thrived during the above average fall heat, died off. West Nile Virus from mosquitos has already claimed several lives this year.
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