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In Texas' worst drought on record, trees dying by the millions

Ron Billings / Texas Forest Service via AP

Drought stricken trees are visible in a residential area in Austin, Texas. The full effect of Texas' record-breaking drought and scorching hot summer on the state's trees will be revealed next spring, with a changed landscape emerging in many places.

The National Weather Service has officially declared last year as the driest on record in Texas and the second hottest. Meteorologists predict the situation won't improve much this year. That means water restrictions will continue, and we'll lose millions of trees.

Record-setting heat and little rain in 2011 has left North Texas in a severe drought. The water level at Lake Lavon is down 12 feet.

See the original story on NBCDFW.com

“It is a challenging time, especially to bring awareness to our consumers and businesses how critical our drought has impacted our reservoirs,” said Denise Hickey, spokesperson for the North Texas Municipal Water District. “As we're planning to move through this drought period, we're also planning and initiating additional strategies to bring additional sources online.”

The diminished water supply forced many counties to put residents under water restrictions indefinitely.

The Texas Forest Service says the drought may have killed as much as 10 percent of the state's trees. That's 500 million trees.

Some trees in your yard might look dead, but tree experts say don't cut them down yet. They still might come back in the spring and you should continue watering them.

“A lot of trees are dormant and a lot of trees go dormant early when there's a drought situation. And they kind of do that for a defense mechanism,” said Matt Grubisich, urban forester for the Texas Trees Foundation. “Most municipalities still let you use a soaker hose, and that is a very adequate way to be able to still water your trees.”

Forecasters expect the drought to last through at least June.

“It's going to get worse before it gets better,” said Grubisich.

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