Early April brought heavy rains to Austin. But it didn’t solve the ongoing problem with drought. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) website states that Lake Travis remains about 39 feet below its average for this time of the year and that Lake Buchanan is about 21 feet below average. Both are at just 41 percent of capacity.
Statewide the statistics are equally dismal. A recent article on Dallas Morning News.com quotes Texas state climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon as saying that Texas is overall at 66% water conservation storage capacity for spring. This figure is down from 78% in 2012 and is 6% below the historical low of 72%.
Nielsen-Gammon predicts that even if rainfall levels are normal, reservoir levels in the state will fall below 50% capacity by early September. However, if current drought conditions persist, things could actually get much worse.
Climate experts have linked the long dry spell in Texas and throughout the Southwest to La Niña. This phenomenon causes water temperatures in the central Pacific to dip by three to five degrees. As a result, moisture travels further north than usual.
But La Niña has now retreated and Pacific water temperatures are close to normal. What is keeping the current drought active is another phenomenon at work off the Eastern seaboard called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO.
The AMO is presently in a warm phase. Nielsen-Gammon has pointed out that a warm AMO was present during two especially bad drought periods in the 1930s and 1950s. He has also stated that Texas could be in for a dry spell that could last until 2020.
At South Austin Irrigation, we believe that knowing how to use available resources wisely is key to maintaining healthy landscapes. This means choosing drought-hardy plants, following Austin Water Utility water use guidelines and making smart irrigation system choices. So when you need the service and advice of experts, contact us!