Author: Jim Forsyth, Reuters, SAN ANTONIO

  • Tropical storm Don welcome in drought-stricken Texas

    As much of Texas suffers through one of its worst droughts, many rain-starved Texans are doing something they thought they would never do — looking forward to the arrival of a tropical storm. “Someone’s going to get it. We hope that it’s us,” is how Danielle Hale sums up the situation. She is the Emergency Management Director on Corpus Christi, right in the middle of the area where Tropical Storm Don is expected to come ashore on Friday night. Parts of Texas are 15 inches short their average rainfall for this time of year. Don’s expected 5 to 7 inches of rain and the fact that the storm was not seen bringing damaging winds or a destructive surge, makes it a perfect storm for a state sick of water rationing, brown lawns and dying crops, Hale said. “We’re not anticipating any evacuation orders,” Hale said. “The worst we expect is maybe some beach access roads may have to be closed heading into Friday evening.

  • Weather turning against Texas wildfire fighters

    Hundreds of weary firefighters were racing against the clock on Sunday, pushing back massive brush fires that have destroyed near-record swatches of Texas countryside. Fire fighters were hoping to make as much progress as possible before low humidity and strong winds set the stage for more potential flare-ups late Monday and Tuesday. “We have gotten rain, but more importantly, we have gotten moister air, and that has been very, very helpful,” Marq Webb, a spokesman for the Texas Forest Service, said on Sunday. Webb said the amount of acreage burned in Texas in 2011 is almost at the record level set in 2006, when nearly 2 million acres were burned by wildfires. So far this year, more than 1.8 million acres have burned. “We’re only in April, with some of the worst wildfire months still to come,” he said. “We will certainly break that record.”

  • Texas wildfires still raging, but weather may help bring them under control

    Substantially higher humidity, lighter winds, and the possibility of drenching thunderstorms had firefighters battling the huge PK Complex brush fire in north Texas more optimistic on Saturday than they have been in days, officials said. The weather could also help control some of the other fires that have been ravaging parts of the state. The monstrous PK Complex brush fire has charred 148,000 acres and destroyed nearly 300 structures, including 167 homes. “Everyone is optimistic, things are looking good,” Haven Cook, Public Information Officer for the Southern Area Incident Management Team, said at a media briefing Saturday morning. The management team is leading the tanker trucks, aircraft and more than 400 firefighters arrayed against the fire, Cook said the fire — actually a combination of four separate fire covering two counties which merged near the resort community of Possum Kingdom Lake about 70 miles west of Ft. Worth — is listed at 25 percent contained.

  • Texas files again to block EPA carbon rules

    Texas on Thursday filed a fresh motion in federal appeals court to block the Obama Administration’s attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the state, one day after another federal court rejected the state’s petitions. At issue is the state’s lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to prevent the agency from forcing it to issue greenhouse gas permits for its biggest polluters when national carbon rules take effect in January. Until there is a ruling on the case, Texas asked the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to block the EPA’s mandate that the state expand its pollution regulations to include greenhouse gases. The Fifth Circuit court denied that request on Wednesday. On Thursday, EPA published in the Federal Register details of its proposed permit rules for Texas to go into effect on Sunday, January 2.