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Agency Ranks 2011 As Driest Year Ever In Texas

Daniel James (cc) flickr

The National Weather Service says 2011 was Texas' driest year on record as well as its second hottest.

The agency said Friday the average rainfall for the drought-stricken state last year was 14.88 inches. The previous driest average total was in 1917 with 14.99 inches.

The weather service says 2011's average temperature was 67.2 degrees. Texas' warmest year on record was in 1921 with an average temperature of 67.5 degrees.

Last year Texas suffered its worst single-year drought, its largest agricultural losses and the hottest summer in U.S. history. From June through August, Texas averaged 86.8 degrees, beating out Oklahoma's 85.2 degrees in 1934.

The current drought started last fall and forecasters say it is expected to drag on at least through June.


Soldier accused of having C4 in luggage freed

A soldier accused of trying to bring powerful explosives on a flight from Texas to North Carolina has been freed on bond.

Federal Magistrate Judge David Counts released Sgt. 1st Class Trey Scott Atwater on $50,000 unsecured bond during a hearing Friday in Midland Texas. Atwater will be allowed to return home to North Carolina, where he is stationed at Fort Bragg.

Atwater was arrested after security officers at Midland International Airport allegedly found military-grade C4 explosives in his carry-on bag Saturday.

FBI agents say Atwater told them he is a demolitions expert and returned from his third tour in Afghanistan in April. They say he told them he didn't realize the C4 was in his luggage.


IDs on 3 who died in Irving canal car crash

A University of Texas student and her boyfriend have been identified as victims of a sports car crash into a Dallas-area canal that left three people dead.

Irving police say the victims were 21-year-old Kaat Debeuckelaer of Austin, 23-year-old Kenneth Lark of Austin, plus the driver, 41-year-old lawyer Ronald Eddins of Southlake. The woman was a UT senior, originally from Colleyville.

Police believe speed was a factor in the single-vehicle accident before dawn Wednesday.

Maintenance personnel Wednesday afternoon noticed a broken guard rail at the Las Colinas Canal. A search led to the submerged Porsche with two bodies inside.

Investigators later received information that a third person might have been in the car. Divers on Thursday found Lark's body in the water.

Toxicology results are pending.


Mom: Texas teen deported to Colombia back in US

The mother of a 15-year-old Texas girl who was deported to Colombia says her daughter is back in the United States and will be in Dallas this evening.

Johnisa Turner told the Associated Press on Friday that her daughter Jakadrien Lorece Turner was on a flight from Atlanta. She had said earlier that she planned to meet the teen when she arrived in the city.

The teen has become the center of an international mystery. Many facts of the case are still unclear, but U.S. and Colombia officials have pointed fingers over who is responsible for allowing a minor be deported to a country where she is not a citizen.

Turner says she'll feel even better when she's able to wrap her daughter in her arms.


Funeral Saturday, armed Texas boy shot by police

Family and friends will gather this weekend to remember a 15-year-old South Texas boy fatally shot by police who say the youth refused to drop a weapon.

The funeral for Jaime Gonzalez has been set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Holy Family Catholic Church in Brownsville, with burial at Buena Vista Cemetery in Brownsville.

Brownsville police on Wednesday responded to reports of a student with a handgun at Cummings Middle School. Police say Gonzalez pointed the weapon at officers and refused repeated commands to put down what turned out to be a pellet gun.

Classes and regular operations resumed Friday at the school, which was closed Thursday and classes were moved to another campus.

A wake Thursday night drew about 400 mourners.


Dallas Earthquake Reported

A minor earthquake was reported in northwest Dallas just after midnight Friday. The US Geological Survey puts the 2.0 magnitude quake near Northwest Highway and Inwood.

Brian Stump is a geologist and seismic expert at SMU.

Stump: This is really a small event. You know there are like a million of these kinds of events around the world every year. So, that’s two or three thousand of these across the globe everyday.

No damage or injuries were reported. The Geological Survey says this was the second Texas earthquake in the New Year. The first one was Tuesday: a 2.8 just north of Amarillo.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Meth Ring Operating In Dallas and Tyler Busted

16 people believed to be members of the La Familia drug cartel have been indicted by a Dallas federal grand jury.

The Dallas-area residents are accused of running a methamphetamine distribution ring.

14 defendants were arrested about three weeks ago during a raid on locations in the Dallas area and at a ranch near Tyler. Two remain at large.

Prosecutors say agents seized $700 thousand in cash, 70 guns, 20 pounds of meth, and a kilogram of cocaine.

BJ Austin, KERA News