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Extreme Drought Is Back In North Texas (But Rain Is On The Way)

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas kicks Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid; Ahmed Mohamed visits the White House; extreme drought enters D/FW; and more.

Parts of North Texas are in extreme drought – including eastern Dallas County, as well as Rockwall, Collin and Grayson counties. Much of the rest of North Texas is in severe drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor says. Several counties between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin and Houston are also in severe drought. A few counties east and south of Waco are in exceptional drought, the worst drought category, such as Freestone, Limestone and Falls counties.

Just in July, we were celebrating that Texas had emerged from drought for the first time since 2010. After all, inches and inches of rain fell on Texas this spring. That excitement dried up quickly (just like our backyards).

But rain is on the way to North Texas. Expect widespread rain later this week. The National Weather Service says the best chances for rain are late Thursday through early Saturday. How much could we get in Dallas/Fort Worth? Two to three inches. In some areas, heavy rain is possible. Nothing severe is in the forecast.

“There’s still a 95 percent chance of El Niño conditions this winter, but so far El Niño has been El No-no as far as rainfall is concerned,” the Texas Water Development Board says.

Most of the Panhandle remains drought-free.

Credit U.S. Drought Monitor
Drought is back in much of Texas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

  • Texas is kicking Planned Parenthood out of the state’s Medicaid program. The Texas Tribune reports state officials are cutting off funding “entirely over what they called ‘acts of misconduct’ revealed in undercover videos filmed earlier this year. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s inspector general, Stuart Bowen, on Monday wrote to a Houston-based Planned Parenthood affiliate that the women’s health provider had violated state Medicaid rules and put Texans at risk of infection. Citing the sting videos, Bowen said Planned Parenthood officials disregarded federal law by agreeing to change the timing or method of abortions in order to procure fetal tissue for medical research. … Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla described the state's efforts to block Medicaid patients from receiving care at its affiliate as ‘politically motivated.’” [Texas Tribune]

  • Ahmed Mohamed, the Irving teenager arrested after a homemade clock he brought to school was mistaken for a bomb, capped a whirlwind month with a visit to the White House. Ahmed got a personal invitation from President Barack Obama to attend "Astronomy Night." The two met and chatted briefly during Monday night's event. Earlier Monday, Ahmed said he was grateful for the president's support and said he's OK with the nickname that so many have given him over the past few weeks — "clock kid." He said the lesson of his experience is: "Don't judge a person by the way they look. Always judge them by their heart." Obama says the U.S. should inspire more kids like him to enjoy science. Ahmed hopes to eventually go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and become an engineer. [Associated Press]

  • A couple of new studies questions the quality of North Texas air. KERA’s BJ Austin reports: “The environmental group, Downwinders at Risk, released two studies on the air North Texans breathe. One, by Dr. Robert Haley, predicted potential savings of more than $500 million in medical care and lost productivity each year if smog levels were decreased by five parts per billion in the 10-county North Texas region. The other, using University of North Texas super-computers to analyze the state’s own air quality model, found most of the DFW pollution is due to aging coal plants in East and Southeast Texas. In a statement, a spokesman for Energy Future Holdings questioned the groups behind the studies. ‘The fact is the air quality in North Texas is greatly improved and getting better, even as the population, economy and vehicle miles have grown,’ spokesman Brad Watson said. ‘What we’re hearing now is just the latest verse of the same tired song these few physicians and activist groups have been singing since 2013.’ Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday are to vote on a resolution calling on the judge presiding over the Nov. 3 bankruptcy hearing of Energy Future Holdings to order the company to ‘retrofit or retire’ the company’s oldest coal plants as a condition of bankruptcy reorganization.”

  • You can find a bit of Texas in the heart of Tokyo. NPR’s Elise Hu reports: “Step off a bustling Tokyo street, down a short flight of stairs, and almost instantly, you can wind up in Fort Worth. Or at least it feels that way. Takeshi Yoshino and his wife opened the tiny tavern called Little Texas 10 years ago, as a tribute to the state they love. Yoshino's passion for country music first led him to the Lone Star State more than two decades ago. In the Tokyo tavern, there are Texas license plates adorning the walls, a giant saddle-bar stool and rows of cowboy boots at the entrance. They serve chicken fried steaks, tacos and even Texas-shaped waffles.” Learn more here. [NPR]

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.