Would Hurricane Lee Answer Texas Drought Prayers?

ANALYSIS

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Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas
Gov. Rick Perry,R-Texas, prays during "The Response" at Reliant stadium in Houston. Perry, also a Republican candidate for the party's presidential nomination, has officially prayed for rain in drought-striken Texas.

One person's savior is another's curse. That's one thing we've learned through history and experience, since good news in one way often means bad news in another -- the balanced scale of life and nature that's often so conflicting and confusing, if not damaging.

Such is the case with a developing storm in the Gulf of Mexico, likely to become a tropical cyclone, and eventually a tropical storm and hurricane that will threaten a direct hit on Texas. Normally, residents in a hurricane's path shake and shiver amid threats of destruction from an onslaught of wind and torrential, flooding rain.

But Texas is in a unique situation. While Vermont and others in the wake of Hurricane Irene try to pick up pieces on the East Coast, Texas has been dealing with a searing drought and heat wave. Days ago, for instance, Austin burned at 112 degrees, an all-time record.

In addition to Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico have been scorched by a searing heat wave thriving upon drought conditions. The drier it gets, the hotter it gets. Sunlight hits the parched ground, evaporating any remaining moisture, raising the temperature.

The saga keeps playing out day after day and many residents, farmers and business owners have had about all they can take.

This drought is just strangling our agricultural economy, professor Travis Miller, of Texas A&M University's Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, told TIME.

The drought is parching cotton crops in Texas, increasing beef prices as feeding and watering cattle has become more critical (and difficult), tourism is taking a bite, and retailers are suffering as many simply don't want to be out in the extreme dry heat. So while the East Coast manages flooding from Hurricane Irene, residents see home water bills imploding in the effort to keep lawns from completely dying, while others try to hold onto crops, and businesses.

The drought was so severe in even in the late spring that Texas Governor and Republican presidential nomination candidate Rick Perry sought to solve the problem with three days of prayer. Perry went so far as issuing a proclamation, proclaiming a statewide three-day period from April 22-25 for rain.

I urge all Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life, Perry stated in the proclamation.

But that's where the Texas drought and hurricane saga gets interesting. Prayers for rain may soon get answered, but Texas may get more than Perry and others asked for. Well, more than some asked for.

An ABC News clip from Good Morning America on July 28, 2011 -- quotes reporter Ryan Owens interviewing residents in Texas about the drought saying, ... which may explain why some (in Texas) or actually praying for a hurricane.

The headline for the story was this: Texas Drought: Praying for a Hurricane.

A storm is brewing in the Gulf of Mexico -- and forecasters say it could soon become Hurricane Lee and threaten Texas with a direct hit. Texas is no stranger to hurricanes, though it's been a while since a major storm has hit the state. But since 1900, 14 major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles per hour have struck Texas.

Among the worst was the first, known as The Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest in U.S. history. It occured on Sept. 8, 1900, and more than 8,000 people died when the storm surge and high tide combined to inundate Galveston with eight to 15 feet of water. More than half of all the homes and buildings were destroyed.

Certainly, Rick Perry and others who have prayed for rain prefer a few good showers instead of a hurricane. Of course. But that's the thing about mother nature -- she's a realm of extremes. We don't get to pick and choose how the rain comes, being it a spring shower or from torrential hurricane downpours.

The forecast for the new storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico is still quite uncertain, but the National Hurricane Center has already cautioned residents along the northern Gulf Coast to pay attention to developments, since models show Hurricane Lee could develop and strike Texas.

This system has a high chance ... 70% ... of becoming a tropical cyclone during the next 48 hours ... Interests along the entire northern Gulf of Mexico coast should monitor the progress of this disturbance, the NHC said.

Computer models show the still-developing system could also possibly strike the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi -- areas hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Those areas haven't suffered from the drought like Texas, and prayers for rain haven't gone out like they have in Texas.

One thing is certain: a strike for would-be Hurricane Lee will bring many parts of the state all the rain it wants. But it's not likely that's how most in the state want to get relief.

Perhaps, then, prayers should be modified -- praying for rain, and the hurricane threat to go away.

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