Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drought Update

It's been a wet spring here in Central Texas. We've received around 14 inches of rain since 01 January, about twice our usual total. Everything is lush and green.

How lush and green is it?

We're growing mushrooms on our property instead of cactus.


But seriously, folks...
A weak El NiƱo pattern has fueled spring storms, giving Texas badly needed relief from a nearly five-year drought that had begun to rival a record event of the 1950s...
The problem is that the recent rains have caused a public perception that the drought is over. The reality is that, while it has lessened, over one-third of the state is still officially categorized as remaining in a drought. Furthermore, while the rain has been plentiful (or even overwhelming) in some areas, it hasn't fallen where needed to help lakes, reservoirs, and underground aquifers to recover.
With all the rain we've had since January, you might think the drought in the state has finally come to an end. But you'd be wrong. In fact, North Texas is still experiencing an extreme drought, and Austin is only a little better off than before...

The reason it can rain almost every week, or every day, yet we're still not in the clear is that the precipitation just hasn't been enough to reverse the last eight years of shortfalls. For almost a decade, the scarcity of storm clouds in Texas has lowered lake levels and dried out the soil deep below the surface to such a degree that we'd need another four months of rain like we've had so far just to break even.
In this part of the state, practically all the drinking water comes from lakes and aquifers. They have been slow to recover.
“If you think in terms of hydrological drought in our region, we have not recovered yet,” (Todd Votteler, a seasoned water expert and executive manager of science, intergovernmental relations and policy with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority) said. “The rain has not really been in the right place to replenish regional aquifers and surface water supplies.”
Local lakes Medina, Canyon, Travis, and Buchanan all remain substantially below normal.

Medina Lake was 6.4 percent full Sunday afternoon, up from 2.8 percent a year ago, with more than twice the amount of water, at 16,252 acre-feet, or about 5.3 billion gallons. But it was still nearly 80 feet below normal. Canyon Lake was 84 percent full Sunday, up more than 3 feet from a month ago but still nearly 8 feet low.

(click to embiggen)

Despite recent rain, Medina Lake still suffers with drought-stricken water levels on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Home owners and business people are happy about the rainfall but are still hoping for more rain to help bring the lake back to pre-drought conditions. (Kin Man Hui/San Antonio Express-News)
Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the rain we've received so far. And I certainly don't wish storm damage or flooding on anyone. But I sure wouldn't mind if a nice tropical storm hovered over the lake and aquifer recharge zones for a few days - just long enough to bring them back up where they belong.

After all, everyone needs a little fun on the water...

4 comments:

Bag Blog said...

Last week our pond was overflowing the spillway - something that has only happened a few times in the 18 years we have lived here. We've had even more rain since then. The Red River is flowing more than I have seen it. All is good. We have more rain this week. Hopefully it will keep filling those aquifers and lakes further on down the road. It would be nice to break out the catamaran and kayaks this summer. Although, I hate mowing grass.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Along the Front Range we are suddenly over blessed.

Old NFO said...

Yep, one hopes the rains will continue... Lots of areas need it badly. A couple of months isn't going to do it...

CenTexTim said...

BB - We've got springs flowing here that have been dry for years. It's a good start, but we need more. +1 on the mowing - and don't forget the skeeters...

WSF - too much of a good thing for you guys.

NFO - it took years to get here. It'll take a long time to get back to normal.