Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Land of Perennial Drought Broken by the Occasional Devastating Flood

No drought
Lovelady well height: 513.8 ft-msl
Barton Springs: approximately 113 cfs 10-day average 

Since our last entry on May 7th, our hopes for much-needed precipitation across central Texas have been more than fulfilled. While benefits to the region are significant, BSEACD hopes for the care and recovery of all those who suffered great losses due to Memorial Day flooding.

After recent heavy rains, Hays, Travis and Blanco counties have experienced significant relief, as all have returned rainfall numbers above monthly historical averages for May and June. According to the district weather station, local rainfall totals reached 14.9 inches in May, 10.5 inches over the monthly average. As a result, the water level of Lake Travis has risen 45.2 feet since the start of 2015. During the month of May alone 36.5 feet of that rise occurred. The Lovelady monitoring well (an Edwards well used to determine the elevation and state of the aquifer) has risen 15.5 feet in that same time. Lake levels are at their highest since numbers reported in April of 2011 by the LCRA and the Lovelady well is at its highest elevation, 513.8 feet, since August of 2010.

The weather phenomenon behind the intense rains of the last several months is the much-talked-about El Nino effect. Bob Rose, meteorologist for the LCRA, explains: “El Nino refers to the warming of the tropical pacific waters between the coast of South America to just north of Australia. When these waters turn unusually warm and persist for quite a while, they tend to influence the atmosphere above them and eventually influence the jetstream all around the world. For us in central Texas, there is a fairly strong correlation between the development of El Nino and a pattern of above-normal rainfall.”

As this pattern continues, so far in June, the BSEACD weather station has reported 4.66 inches so far, 0.85 inches above the monthly historical average. Happily, the majority of Texas is now out of drought status, with a few small areas demonstrating “abnormally dry” conditions. For updated information on the drought status throughout Texas, refer to the United States Drought Monitor.

According to an unknown state meteorologist from Texas in 1927, “Texas is a land of perennial drought broken by the occasional devastating flood. “ We see this statement ring true as 2015 rolls into summer. That said, drought will always be a concern for our beloved home state, so let’s maintain our dedication to conserving our most precious natural resource, even in this time of plenty.

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