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Dry Texas expected to again miss out on rain from storm

By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - As Louisiana prepares for the drenching rains of Tropical Storm Lee, no more than a few sprinkles are expected over the long holiday weekend next door in Texas, which is suffering from an historic drought.

What little rain is forecast for Texas is expected to be confined to the far southeastern part of the state, where the drought is the least severe.

"This is more of the bad luck that Texas has been experiencing," said Scott Landes, Senior Meteorologist with the Weather Channel.

He said the presence of the massive rain maker in the central Gulf of Mexico could actually decrease the chances of next door Texas getting any showers at all.

"When you have that strong low pressure system to the east, that will just pull in a high pressure ridge from the west into Texas, and that will bring with it gusty winds which will dry out the state even more."

Those gusty winds make April Saginor nervous. She is with the Texas Forest Service, which is currently battling 14 large brush fires across the state which have scorched more than 20,000 acres, destroying fifty homes and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people.

"We're crossing our fingers, but we are not expecting enough moisture to make a difference," she said. "We are very concerned about the winds. These fires are moving so fast."

Since the current brush fire season started last November, more than 3.5 million acres of Texas has been burned by nearly 21,000 separate brush fires, the worst wildfire season the state has ever experienced.

The drought in Texas has been devastating to residents, farmers and ranchers. It has caused more than $5 billion in damage to agriculture, leading to historic rationing of water in cities, leaving parched pasture lands and brown front lawns from one end of the state to the other.

The record drought and record heat are feeding on each other across Texas, as the pounding sun beats down on a dry landscape. First July, and then August, have been the two hottest months in the state's history.

Some Texas residents are wishing Tropical Storm Lee would veer toward them as long as it is not too severe.

"We could really use the rain," said Jeff Sauerwein, Assistant Manager of Tookie's Burgers, a landmark in the Texas Gulf Coast town of Seabrook.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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