After the intense drought of 2011 finally came to a close at the beginning of 2012 for the Brazos Valley, it continues for most of Texas West of I-35. Water supplies are still severely depleted for much of Central Texas and the Hill Country. While winter rains have moved much Eastern Texas out of a drought classification, 62.4% of Texas remain in at least a “Moderate Drought.” That being said, after a water crisis for many, that rain has helped improve conditions for most that had it.
Lake Travis is up 13 feet since January — the point where the lake was the lowest due to this drought. But even 13 feet up, the lake only sits 48% full. That is something that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) points out to stress the message that much of Texas is very much still in a drought.
David Walker, Manager at LCRA River Operations, says that “April has been back to a dry spell. The rivers will get 10% to 20% of average inflows for the month, but Lake Travis is still half full and the LCRA is still prepared for drought.”
Even in a drought, flood gates are opened at dams along Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan due to the fact that the LCRA is still required to send water downstream due to senior water rights. Depleted water supplies doesn’t mean that irrigation for farms and ranches along with water for electricity and Texas residents stops. It is that idea that has the LCRA looking for other means of water to offset the drought and demand.
Bob Rose, Chief Meteorologist at the LCRA, believes that while there won’t be an overwhelming amount of relief this summer, the upcoming months won’t be as bad as last year. Increased sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico should mean more cloud cover, which will help keep temperatures down slightly, and more of an increased opportunity to find typical afternoon showers drifting in from the south. Also, the dome of high pressure that sat right over Texas should position itself more to the northwest, over Colorado, to allow for some relief as well.
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