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Monday, August 29, 2011

Driest year on record plagues Texas ...

VOA: Weather forecasters and agriculture experts in the southwestern U.S. state of Texas say there is no relief in sight for what already is the worst drought year on record. The searing heat and dry conditions have caused devastating wildfires in the western part of the large state and led to crop losses, cattle deaths and water rationing in areas of east Texas that are normally wet at this time of year.

Driving through the countryside northwest of Houston, one sees dried up fields, dying trees and livestock ponds that are not much more than a puddles of fetid, algae-covered water. In some towns, farmers' markets have been cancelled because local growers have little to offer. Those with wells for irrigation are struggling with the high cost of fuel to run their pumps.

Debbie Cross, who operates a farmers' market near Cypress, Texas, says people are becoming discouraged by the lack of rain and the high temperatures, which are around 40 degrees most days.

“The drought is hurting everything. It is hurting all the crops, the cattle, the hay. There is no grass. The chickens are miserable. I mean everybody is just miserable. We need water,” Cross said.

Cross says local farmers are unable to supply much fruit and vegetables and that she is getting by with produce trucked in from other states where conditions are better.

“We are getting it from the local southern states and southwestern states are kicking in -- Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Oklahoma. Everybody knows that the Texas market is a great consumer market, so they are helping out a lot here,” Cross said.
One of the hardest hit agricultural sectors is livestock. Texas is the biggest cattle producer in the United States and ships beef to many foreign markets. Earlier this year, ranchers endured one of the worst winters on record, with several days of subzero temperatures in a region where freezes are rare. The drought has made it even harder, driving up the cost of hay and leaving some areas so dry that cattle have died of thirst in their pastures.

One rancher who has managed to get through this crisis with most of her stock in fairly good condition is Dorie Damuth, owner of the Flying D ranch near Magnolia, Texas.

Damuth raises prize-winning Texas Longhorns for breeding and she has managed to find hay and enough water to keep them alive. She says she has seen dry spells before, but nothing that compares to this year.

“The drought is something I, as a cattle woman, and all of my fellow cattlemen and cattlewomen have never experienced before. This is probably the 100-year drought, just like you can have a 100-year flood. It is very devastating for all of us ranchers who work so hard to provide beef for our country as well as for around the world,” Damuth said.

In a dried up lake on her property, there is a Longhorn skull sitting on top of cracked earth that is muddy and soft underneath.

“We have had lakes and stock ponds on the ranch that have dried up because of no rain, no rainfall. They will dry down to a little mucky place in the middle that is still wet and the cattle will sometimes go down and try to get water and they can't. And they step into that mucky mud and it is kind of like quicksand, and they can't get out.”

Lately, there have been beautiful fluffy clouds floating over the area. But ranch hand Chris Quinters is not encouraged by them.

“Those are some nice clouds, but it don't look like they are going to bring any rain,” Quinters said.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Water main break causes water concerns in Amarillo...

AMARILLO, TEXAS -- Around ten o'clock Sunday morning water shot up out of the ground at the scene of a major water supply line break on the Fritch Highway.

The 45-inch supply line runs from the Carson County well field to the City of Amarillo and supplies a significant amount of potable water to the city. City officials assured us, though, that crews were on the scene shortly after the break to begin necessary repairs.

"The water line is about 6 feet under. They need to dig about 12 feet under to get all the way around it. They say that we already have the replacement pipe on hand so we're hoping to get it replaced in 24 hours. If it's at a T-joint, if it's something more serious then it'll take a little bit longer", said City Commissioner, Ellen Robertson Green.

Residents of both Amarillo and Canyon have been asked to curtail all non-essential water use until the break has been repaired.

"We really need people not to water outside, not to wash their cars, this is a major water break. It's not catastrophic but it's very serious", added Green.

The good news: the break has been isolated and the water is not contaminated and we have enough for necessities, like drinking and showering.

"We can supply enough water for drinking and, you know, for showers and things like that", said Green.

"We have 400 million gallons that sits out by our water, our Osage water treatment plant and so we're going to be using that source for right now as we repair the other current source", said City Commissioner and Mayor Pro Temp, Dr. Brian Eades.

City officials told us the worse case scenario for repairs is about three days. Until then... we're all on water watch.


KVII UPDATE: City officials spoke at a press conference about an hour ago. Here's what we now know. The cause of the break is still unknown. It was a 15 foot piece of pipe that was damaged. Crews will work through the night to replace with a spare they have on hand. Officials expect to being testing and refilling some time late tomorrow. The public and business are still urged to continue to reduce non-essential and all outdoor watering.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet summer rain ...

It didn't drop much - but we will take what we can get! Lightning and rain shafts west of Amarillo just after sunset.

(C) Steve Douglass

Classic car stolen - APD needs your help.

**Amarillo Crime Stoppers** has an important message for you! **Crime of the week- Stolen high value classic car

Amarillo Crime Stoppers needs your help with this week’s Crime Of the Week. This weekend a highly collectable vehicle was stolen from a hotel parking lot in the 2800 block of Wolflin.

The car is a convertible 1969 white and gold Hurst Olds. This was one of only 2 vehicles built with an estimated value of $75,000. If you have any information about this or any other crime, call Amarillo Crime Stoppers at (806) 374-4400 or submit a tip on-line at If your tip leads to an arrest or recovery of stolen property, you could get a reward of up to $1,000

B-17 "Texas Raider" make stop in Amarillo

C lick to enlarge...

Seems to be the week for bomber drop ins!

A WWII vintage B-17 bomber Texas Raider made a stop in Amarillo yesterday for an oil top off. The B-17 (based in Houston) was on it's way from an Air Force Reunion at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. A select few photographers were allowed to photography and inspect the rare bird as it sat on the tarmac at Rick Husband International AIrport.

All photos (C) Steve Douglass

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Broken Bone in Amarillo ...

A B-1B strategic bomber from Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene was forced to land at Amarillo/Rick Husband International airport today due to an in-flight emergency. Sources say the problem was described as being electrical in nature . The big bomber landed without incident.

A repair crew is being dispatched from Dyess. As a result it is expected to remain at least over night.

The B-1B "Lancer" is a common site over Amarillo as they come here often to train practicing touch and go landings - but because they are a strategic bomber and nuclear capable they rarely land anywhere except on secure air force bases.
Video by Steve Douglass

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Amarillo built Osprey was bin Laden's last ride.

According to an article in the New Yorker includes never before published details on the bin Laden raid - including the fact that a V-22 Osprey was used to ferry bin Laden's body to the USS Carl Vinson. All V-22s are assembled here in Amarillo.

It's a great read!

Begin excerpt:

At dawn, bin Laden was loaded into the belly of a flip-wing V-22 Osprey, accompanied by a JSOC liaison officer and a security detail of military police. The Osprey flew south, destined for the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson—a thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast. The Americans, yet again, were about to traverse Pakistani airspace without permission. Some officials worried that the Pakistanis, stung by the humiliation of the unilateral raid in Abbottabad, might restrict the Osprey’s access. The airplane ultimately landed on the Vinson without incident


The forecast?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Drought uncovers space shuttle Columbia debris

(CNN) -- The recent drought has ruined millions of acres of farmland in Texas, turning lakes into mud puddles, and has many praying for rain.
But in the East Texas city of Nacogdoches, authorities say, the drought may have done something good by helping unearth a piece of the space shuttle Columbia.

The object, which is about 4 feet in diameter, was found in a local lake. NASA says it is a tank that provides power and water for shuttle missions.
"It's one of ours," said Lisa Malone, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Malone added that NASA is trying to develop a plan to recover the item,
But it could take weeks to get it, she said.

"We're looking into whether we'll send a team out or local authorities can," Malone said.

Authorities say the object was found after the drought caused the waters to recede in Lake Nacogdoches, and they notified representatives from NASA on Friday.

"The lower water level has exposed a larger than normal area on the northern side of the lake," said Sgt. Greg Sowell of the Nacogdoches Police Department.
The item is full of mud and is in a remote area near a private shoreline, Sowell said.

Nacogdoches made headlines in 2003 when debris from the shuttle Columbia disaster was found there.

The spacecraft broke up while re-entering Earth's atmosphere near the end of its mission on February 1, 2003.

"We want to remind everyone that the rules are the same as they were back in 2003. If this object is indeed a part of the shuttle, it is government property, and it is a criminal offense to tamper with it," Sowell said.

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