So, how dry is Palo Pinto County?
According to the Texas Forest Service, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is an measure used to determining forest fire potential. It is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture (assumed to have a maximum storage capacity of 8-inches) and is expressed in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion.
The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions.
Monday Palo Pinto County's average was 645. The highest reading was 703, a small area north of Strawn and the lowest reading was 445, located in the southeast part of the county near the Parker County line.
For perspective, on April 22, 2011, the county average was 552 with the highest reading at 653, the lowest at 437. In April 2011, the county experienced the PK Complex fire.
In August 2011, there was the 101 Ranch Fire. KBDI readings on Aug. 30, 2011, showing a county average of 688 with the highest reading at 747 and the lowest, 576.
Presently, this index is derived from ground based estimates of temperature and precipitation derived from weather stations and interpolated manually by experts at the Texas Forest Service for counties across the state.
Researchers at Texas A&M University are working with TFS to derive this index from Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellite data and NEXRAD (NEXt generation weather RADar) rainfall.
Last week, Gov. Rick Perry renewed the drought disaster declaration.
The declaration includes Palo Pinto County and surrounding counties.
"I think the main thing, it allows small businesses and farmers to apply for disaster assistance loans," said Palo Pinto County Judge David Nicklas. "I haven't seen anything the county can do like that."
He also said those businesses at Possum Kingdom Lake that have been hurt could investigate the possibility of loans due to the drought.
"That's just my interpretation of it," he added.