Monday, March 24, 2014

Drought Conditions Possible by Late April

Barton Springs discharge: 52 cfs 10-day avg.
Lovelady monitor well: 483.3 ft-msl

Water levels in the aquifer and flow at Barton Springs continue to gradually decline, after having reached their respective peaks in January and November, following the large storms in October of last year. According to the district rain gauge, March has received a total of 1.5 inches of rain so far, putting it on track to possibly reach its historic average of 2.2 inches. Despite the decent rainfall conditions we've seen this month, the preceding 3 months saw about 1/5 of their historic rainfall, leading to overall dry conditions and meager flow in streams where most of the recharge to the aquifer occurs. At the current rate of decline, without significant recharge to the aquifer, it is possible that Stage II Alarm Drought could be reached by late April based on water level in the District's Lovelady monitor well (see figure). Flow at Barton Springs will likely not reach its Stage II Alarm Drought threshold until later this Spring, perhaps mid-May. It only takes one, of the District's drought trigger sites to cross their respective threshold for a drought declaration to be made. The National Weather Service's Drought Outlook makes a range of predictions for parts of central Texas ranging from intensification of drought to slight improvement, depending on the county. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the current ENSO cycle is currently in El Niño-Neutral, with some possibility of El Niño conditions arising in the summer or fall 2014. El Niño generally means wetter conditions for Texas. 

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