Is it windier and dryer than ever?

A particular sentiment seems to be creeping into more Texas Panhandle residents’ conversation.

It is that the wind and the dirt that is blowing through the air is “the worst I’ve ever seen” in the Panhandle.

I heard it yet again this morning at church from a 60-something friend who’s lived here all her life. Others have made similar statements to me for the past several weeks as the wind just won’t relent.

Here and there folks are suggesting the wind that’s howling and the dirt that’s filling the air remind them of the bad old Dust Bowl days.

I won’t go that far. First of all, the Dust Bowl occurred 70-plus years ago. Second of all, the footage I’ve seen of events such as Black Sunday defy description.

Setting all that aside for a moment, let’s just consider that we’re likely in for a prolonged dry spell. Weather forecasters aren’t giving us much reason to believe a radical change in the weather is coming soon.

We’re in the grip of a drought that’s entering its fourth year. We had a slight break in 2012 from the lack of rainfall. So far this year, our precipitation level is about a third of what it’s supposed to be. Our winter snowfall was a good bit below normal. Lake levels are receding, streams are dry and grass used to feed our cattle is hard to find. Thus, ranchers are selling their cattle under weight because they cannot afford the high cost of grain to keep them fed.

It’s a mess out there.

What’s the lesson here? Two things come to mind.

First, we need to stop worrying about the wind, suck on some throat lozenges and perhaps say a prayer for more rain. Does prayer work? Well, someone has to prove to me it doesn’t. Absent that proof, I’ll keep asking for some divine intervention.

Second, cities need to start talking more proactively about water conservation. Amarillo is beginning such a conversation, but officials are saying mandatory restrictions aren’t yet on the table. I’m not so sure that’s necessarily a wise course to take in light of this drought. City Hall needs to start talking loudly and often about the need to conserve water and it ought to prepare immediately to enact a mandatory plan if we don’t get relief in, say, the next 30 days.

Meanwhile, batten everything down, folks.

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