Thursday, April 23, 2009

Critical Drought Remains, but hopeful forecast issued

Current Conditions: Critical Stage
Barton Springs: 19.5 cfs (10-day average)
Lovelady Well: 195.1 ft

Despite the above-average rainfall for March, and the near-average rainfall for April, the area remains in a critical (hydrologic) drought with both indicators below their respective critical threshold.

The US Drought Monitor still shows much of the area under "exceptional" drought conditions.

The USGS map of streams below shows areas of below normal 7-day average streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of year. The shaded areas represent "moderate hydrologic drought." Note much of Travis and part of Hays Counties are shaded.

However, there is a glimmer of hope in the forecast by the US Seasonal Outlook through July 2009. The outlook describes "drought likely to improve, impacts to east." NOAA describes a shift from La Nina conditions (which usually means less rainfall in Texas) to more "ENSO-neutral" conditions in April. This could mean a shift back to more average rainfall conditions in May. This would be good news since May is our wettest month of the year.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Drought conditions remain

Current Conditions: Critical Stage
Barton Springs: 21 cfs (10-day average)
Lovelady Well: 195.01 ft

Above-average rainfall in March was very welcome after the mny months of below-average rainfall we've experienced. However, central Texas is still within the grips of an exceptional meteorological and hydrological drought.

A recent Austin American Statesman article by Suzannah Gonzales discusses the drought impact in central Texas:

Travis County commissioners on Tuesday (4/7) unanimously declared the county a disaster area due to the ongoing drought. The commissioners signed a letter to Gov. Rick Perry in support of his request for federal assistance. Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette and Comal counties have signed similar letters, according to Travis County emergency management coordinator Pete Baldwin.

While Travis County has fewer agricultural interests than most of its Central Texas neighbors, the dearth of rain over the last two years has taken a toll.
Commissioners also decided to keep the county’s burn ban in place, despite the rains Austin has received over the past two week, and they gave the go-ahead to Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Travis County to coordinate a study of drought effects on Travis County farmers and ranchers.

In Bastrop County, 1,000 cattle have died, said Brad Pierce, Texas AgriLife’s agriculture program leader for Travis County. He said the number of lost cattle is unknown for Travis County because there are no auction services here. In 60 days, they’ll have a better idea production-wise how the county’s doing, Pierce said.