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Climate Experts Meet to Discuss Epic Texas Drought

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This May 19, 2011 file photo shows clumps of dirt in a drought-hardened field near Lubbock, Texas. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has dubbed all of Texas a natural disaster as the worst drought in decades persists across most of the state. (AP)

Federal and state weather forecasters and climate experts are getting together to brainstorm about the epic 2011 Texas drought and what weather trends might signal for the future.

This year's drought already has cost the Texas agriculture and cattle industries more than $5 billion. Intensifying La Nina conditions in the equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean signal the approach of another dry winter. That means little to no relief from the drought conditions.

State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon already has told the Austin American-Statesman that the drought could be the beginning of a decade-long dry spell. He will join National Weather Service forecasters and climatologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Monday's discussion in Fort Worth.