The parched area between Austin and New Braunfels has reached an "exceptional" level — the most severe drought category. Forecasters said there's little prospect for rain in the area, meaning nearby communities probably will succumb to exceptional drought levels. The area has had less than half the usual rain this year and is headed into the driest time of the year. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center expects below-normal rainfall through at least February. Extremely dry conditions and high fuel loads are setting up wildfire situations across Texas.