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FORT WORTH - If weather patterns hold true, ranchers will find it just as hard to feed and water herds next year. Farmers will find just as much dust in their fields. Homeowners will see continued watering restrictions that could get even tighter, and fires will rage in areas not already burned.

Bill Proenza is director of the National Weather Service southern region.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center is looking ahead and seeing similar conditions setting up again for the upcoming year, Proenza said.

About 100 climate scientists from several states gathered in Fort Worth to look ahead. They don't like what they see.

The last major drought like this dates back to the mid 50's, Proenza said.

He says Texas is in exactly the same situation as the 1950's, when drought gripped the state for several years. Only this time, there are three times as many people straining water supplies.

It's concerning news for all of us, Proenza said.

Scientists blame La Nina, a pool of cool water in the Pacific that affects the jet stream.

They see the same ominous signs they saw last year as we entered a record-setting summer of heat and drought. Climate experts say government agencies should heed the early warning and prepare as much as possible.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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