Help rename Onion Creek Greenbelt

August 19th, 2014 at 1:34 pm by under Weather

Process Begins to Rename Onion Creek Greenbelt

Deadline for submissions is Monday, November 3, 2014.

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department has begun the renaming process for Onion Creek Greenbelt. This announcement begins a 90-day public comment period. The facilities/property naming ordinance allows facilities and property to be named after an individual(s) (living or dead) or something other than an individual, such as a place or natural feature.  A suggestion for naming a facility/property must include:

  • If an individual – A biographical sketch; a description of the individual’s involvement in the community; and the individual’s connection, if any, to the Austin park system.
  • If other than an individual, include justification for the suggested name.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, November 3, 2014.  After the deadline, the Parks and Recreation Board will call a public hearing on the suggested name(s) and a make recommendation to City Council for final approval.

Nomination forms are available at the Parks and Recreation Department’s Main Office, 200 S. Lamar Blvd.; or online at

Submit nomination forms via mail to Austin Parks and Recreation Department, Attn: April Thedford; 919 W. 28 ½ St.; Austin, Texas 78705 or via email:

Aquifer district returns to Stage II Alarm Drought

August 18th, 2014 at 1:34 pm by under Weather

The Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District’s Board of Directors declared Stage II Alarm Drought at the August 14th Board Meeting, effective immediately. Lovelady monitor well, one of the District’s two drought-trigger sites, crossed below its Stage II Alarm Drought water level of 478.4 feet above mean sea level in mid-July. 10-day average discharge at Barton Springs, the District’s other drought trigger site, is at its Drought threshold of 38 cubic feet per second. Only one of the two drought stage triggers needs to be reached for a drought declaration to be made.

Mandatory drought restrictions had been lifted at the June 26th meeting when both the Lovelady Monitor Well water level and Barton Springs 10-day average discharge were above their drought thresholds and forecasts were predicting above average rainfall. However, the subsequent rains mostly missed the contributing and recharge zones, so no significant recharge occurred. Water levels and spring flow are steadily declining.

Declaration of Stage II Alarm Drought requires all of the District’s permittees to implement mandatory measures specified in their User Drought Contingency Plans to meet monthly pumpage reduction requirements. All permittees must achieve at least a 20% reduction in monthly pumpage. Permittees with conditional permits have to reduce use even further. End-user customers served by water utilities on groundwater wells are required to comply with their utility’s water use restrictions for this drought stage. Generally, restricting outdoor water use, including limiting landscape irrigation, pool filling & refilling, and non-essential water use such as water fountains, is sufficient to reach monthly pumpage targets for Stage II Alarm Drought. September will be the first full month of declared drought, and therefore, the first monthly compliance assessments for drought curtailments.

BSEACD is a groundwater conservation district charged by the Texas Legislature to preserve, conserve, and protect the aquifers and groundwater resources within its jurisdiction, which includes parts of three Central Texas counties. It is governed by a Board of five elected directors and staffed with hydrogeologists, groundwater regulatory compliance specialists, environmental educators, geospatial systems specialists, and administrative support personnel.



Hill Country enjoys Sunday rain, others stay dry

August 17th, 2014 at 8:41 pm by under Weather



Two rounds of thunderstorms–one early Sunday morning in Mason and San Saba counties and another Sunday afternoon in Lampasas, Burnet and Llano counties–brought measurable rain to much of the western and northern Hill Country.

The LCRA hydromet map above shows the distribution of Sunday’s rainfall (and which lakes the rain eventually flows into).

The luckiest spots, mainly in San Saba and Lampasas counties, saw over an inch of rain in a few isolated locations. The heavy downpours led to brief concerns of low-water crossing/creek flooding, although no major problems were reported.

Though most of Sunday’s rain will be absorbed by the drought-stricken soil in the Hill Country, minor river inflows could feed Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake and Lake LBJ.

San Marcos enters STAGE 4 water restrictions

August 17th, 2014 at 5:15 am by under Weather

SM water

Central Texas water users are facing unprecedented pumping restrictions by the Edwards Aquifer Authority.

The authority announced Stage 4 restrictions that mandates users in Bexar and Medina counties, and parts of Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays counties to reduce water use by 40-percent because of low water levels and lingering hot and dry weather. The aquifer dropped to 628.9 feet above sea level Monday. That’s its lowest level in nearly 20 years.

The aquifer services municipal utilities, agriculture and industrial customers in seven counties. Cities are considering purchasing water from other providers and tightening conservation requirements.

San Marcos city officials said Stage 4 restrictions will be implemented TODAY, Sunday, at noon. These are the stiffest water rules the city has faced and mean enforcement teams will be increasing their patrols.

Enforcement teams had issued 159 notices of violation and 24 second notices by the end of July, but had not levied any fines. Punishment for violating the restrictions ranges between $120 per day and $1,000 per day, for repeat offenders. San Marcos gets 93 percent of its water from Canyon Lake, but restrictions sill apply to all residents despite the city drawing just a small portion of water from the aquifer.

Water Restrictions:

Under Stage 4, use of sprinklers will be limited to one day every other week on a designated weekday between 6-10 a.m. or 8 p.m.-midnight.

Designated sprinkler weeks are as follows:

  • No sprinklers on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • August 18 -22 – No sprinklers.
  • August 25 – 29 – Sprinklers allowed on designated weekday and times.
  • September 1 – 5 – No sprinklers.
  • September 8 – 12 – Sprinklers allowed on designated weekday and times.

Designated weekday by last number of address:

  • 0 or 1 – Monday
  • 2 or 3 – Tuesday
  • 4 or 5 – Wednesday
  • 6 or 7 – Thursday
  • 8 or 9 – Friday

Soaker hose and drip irrigation are allowed one day per week on the designated weekday before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. Hand watering is allowed on any day before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m.

Stage 4 rules prohibit water waste, washing impervious surfaces, filling swimming pools, and using decorative water features. Foundation watering is allowed one day per week on the designated weekday before 10 am or after 8 pm, and only by soaker hose or hand-held hose.

First Warning Weather visits the Austin Home & Garden Show

August 16th, 2014 at 4:03 pm by under Weather

yeo 2new


The organizers of the Austin Home & Garden Show were nice enough to have me (KXAN Meteorologist David Yeomans) as a speaker at the Austin Convention Center event on Saturday morning.

As many folks in attendance were thinking of new plants and landscaping modifications, I took the opportunity to talk about the ongoing Central Texas drought and what we’re expecting going forward.

Since rainfall this year has been close to average, we have to remember that the ongoing drought deals with the multi-year rain deficit. Even though Texas is in better shape than we were one year ago, 83% of the state remains in some level of drought with the most extreme “exceptional” drought classification still present in parts of the Hill Country.

Thanks again for having me!

Fan donations needed this weekend

August 15th, 2014 at 4:41 pm by under Weather

We received the following note from our friends at Family Eldercare today. We are hoping you can help!  If you can’t drop off a fan tomorrow, an online donation would be great! Click here to do that, and remember, a new box fan only costs about $15–feel free to donate in multiples of 15!  Thanks!


We have delivered 4,719 fans to 2,711 households to date! Based on numbers from previous years, we anticipate that we will need to distribute another 1,000-1,300 fans before the heat becomes bearable again. Over the past 2 weeks we are averaging 10-15 new individuals/families reaching out to us in need of fans each day, meaning we are distributing, on average, 300 fans a week!!

 We are down to our last 100 fans and have reached out to several groups. The Kappa Psi Alpha Fraternity – Austin Alumni Chapter is hosting a collection at our main location (1700 Rutherford Lane) tomorrow, August 16 from 10am-1pm. Their goal is to collect 500 fans for us. Would it be possible for you to announce this on air?

 Thanks for your help!


Director of Development

Family Eldercare

1700 Rutherford Ln. | Austin, TX 78754

512.483.3569 Office | 512.459.6436 Fax |

Sign up for our Email Newsletter

Do you know someone who needs In-Home Care or Caregiver Support? Visit our website or call 24/7 at 512.467.6168.

The information contained in this electronic mail transmission including any attachment(s) is confidential. This information is intended for the exclusive use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, use, disclosure, distribution, copying of this information or taking of any action because of this information is strictly prohibited.



Kaxan reminds you to protect your pet from summer heat

August 14th, 2014 at 3:30 pm by under Weather

Hey everyone, this is Kaxan, KXAN-TV’s mascot, and I have taken over the weather blog today. I just want everyone to know that there is a lot of summer left, and it looks like our hottest days are ahead, so remember, never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles! Oh yeah, and make sure if you leave us outside for very long that we have plenty of shade and fresh water. We dogs don’t like this August heat any more than you do!

I found this great video online from Discovery News he wants to share with everyone. It is about keeping your pets cool in the summer. Click here to check it out!

car heat

Please read this important information from the Humane Society of the United States:

The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It’s difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity, but things really get tough in areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes with tragic results.

We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on (and even if the power isn’t).

Practice basic summer safety

Never leave your pets in a parked car

Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car »

Print our hot car flyer [PDF] and spread the life-saving word »

Watch the humidity

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions for treating heat stroke.

Limit exercise on hot days

Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Don’t rely on a fan

Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Provide ample shade and water

Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out

Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if she enjoys a cooling soak.

Watch for signs of heatstroke

Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke

Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Prepare for power outages

Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.

Colliding atmospheres: Mars vs Comet Siding Spring

August 14th, 2014 at 1:41 pm by under Weather

On October 19, 2014, Comet Siding Spring will pass by Mars only 132,000 km away–which would be like a comet passing about 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Moon.

The nucleus of the comet won’t hit Mars, but there could be a different kind of collision.

“We hope to witness two atmospheres colliding,” explains David Brain of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).  “This is a once in a lifetime event!”

A new ScienceCast video examines what might happen if the atmosphere of Comet Siding Spring hits the atmosphere of Mars.  Play it

Everyone knows that planets have atmospheres.  Lesser known is that comets do, too.  The atmosphere of a comet, called its “coma,” is made of gas and dust that spew out of the sun-warmed nucleus.  The atmosphere of a typical comet is wider than Jupiter.

“It is possible,” says Brain, “that the atmosphere of the comet will interact with the atmosphere of Mars.  This could lead to some remarkable effects—including Martian auroras.”

The timing could scarcely be better.  Just last year, NASA launched a spacecraft named MAVEN to study the upper atmosphere of Mars, and it will be arriving in Sept. 2014 barely a month before the comet.

MAVEN is on a mission to solve a longstanding mystery: What happened to the atmosphere of Mars?  Billions of years ago, Mars had a substantial atmosphere that blanketed the planet, keeping Mars warm and sustaining liquid water on its surface. Today, only a wispy shroud of CO2 remains, and the planet below is colder and dryer than any desert on Earth. Theories for this planetary catastrophe center on erosion of the atmosphere by solar wind.

“The goal of the MAVEN mission is to understand how external stimuli affect the atmosphere of Mars,” says Bruce Jakosky of LASP, MAVEN’s principal investigator. “Of course, when we planned the mission, we were thinking about the sun and the solar wind.  But Comet Siding Spring represents an opportunity to observe a natural experiment, in which a perturbation is applied and we can see the response.”

Click to visit the MAVEN home page

Brain, who is a member of the MAVEN science team, thinks the comet could spark Martian auroras. Unlike Earth, which has a global magnetic field that shields our entire planet, Mars has a patchwork of “magnetic umbrellas” that sprout out of the surface in hundreds of places all around the planet.  If Martian auroras occur, they would appear in the canopies of these magnetic umbrellas.

“That is one thing that we will be looking for with both MAVEN and Hubble Space Telescope,” says Brain.  “Any auroras we see will not only be neat, but also very useful as a diagnostic tool for how the comet and the Martian atmosphere have interacted.”

The atmosphere of the comet includes not only streamers of gas, but also dust and other debris blowing off the nucleus at 56 kilometers per second relative to Mars.  At that velocity, even particles as small as half a millimeter across could damage spacecraft.  NASA’s fleet of Mars orbiters including MAVEN, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will maneuver to put the body of Mars between themselves and the comet’s debris during the dustiest part of the encounter.

“It’s not yet clear whether any significant dust or gas will hit the Mars atmosphere,” cautions Jakosky. “But if it does, it would have the greatest effects on the upper atmosphere.”

Meteoroids disintegrating would deposit heat and temporarily alter the chemistry of upper air layers.  The mixing of cometary and Martian gases could have further unpredictable effects. Although MAVEN, having just arrived at Mars, will still be in a commissioning phase, it will use its full suite of instruments to monitor the Martian atmosphere for changes.

“By observing both before and after, we hope to determine what effects the comet dust and gas have on Mars, if any,” says Jakosky.

Whatever happens, MAVEN will have a ringside seat.


Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Production editor: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

Watching the winds where sea meets sky

August 14th, 2014 at 1:16 pm by under Weather

SeaWinds scatterometer chart

The SeaWinds scatterometer on NASA’s QuikScat satellite stares into the eye of 1999′s Hurricane Floyd as it hits the U.S. coast. The arrows indicate wind direction, while the colors represent wind speed, with orange and yellow being the fastest. NASA/JPL-Caltech

(JPL) The ocean covers 71 percent of Earth’s surface and affects weather over the entire globe. Hurricanes and storms that begin far out over the ocean affect people on land and interfere with shipping at sea. And the ocean stores carbon and heat, which are transported from the ocean to the air and back, allowing for photosynthesis and affecting Earth’s climate. To understand all these processes, scientists need information about winds near the ocean’s surface.

NASA’s ISS-RapidScat, launching to the International Space Station this fall, will watch those winds with a tried and true instrument called a scatterometer. Since satellite scatterometers began collecting data in the 1970s, their soundings have become essential to our understanding of Earth’s ocean winds.

Scatterometers send microwave pulses to Earth’s surface at an angle. A smooth ocean surface reflects most of the energy like a mirror, away from the satellite, but strong waves scatter some of the signal back toward the spacecraft. From the strength of this backscatter, scientists can estimate the speed and direction of wind at the ocean’s surface.

“Before scatterometers, we could only measure ocean winds on ships, and sampling from ships is very limited,” said Timothy Liu of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who led the science team for NASA’s QuikScat mission.

Scatterometry began to emerge during World War II, when scientists realized wind disturbing the ocean’s surface caused noise in their radar signals. NASA included an experimental scatterometer in its first space station in 1973 and again when it launched its SeaSat satellite in 1978. During its three-month life, SeaSat’s scatterometer provided scientists with more individual wind observations than ships had collected in the previous century.


A JPL team then designed a mission called NSCAT, the NASA Scatterometer. When the Japanese spacecraft carrying NSCAT failed in 1997, engineers rushed to complete JPL’s SeaWinds scatterometer instrument, already in development. In just a year, JPL engineers finished the SeaWinds scatterometer, and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation created a satellite from another project’s leftover parts. NASA named the expedited mission “QuikScat.”

“We had to build the SeaWinds instrument using spare parts and do it very fast,” Liu said. “It was only meant to be a gap-filler. But then it lasted for 10 years.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Ozone Action Day declared for Thursday

August 13th, 2014 at 2:45 pm by under Weather

Please see the following notice from
The CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas

August 14, 2014

has been declared an


The area affected by this Ozone Action Day notice encompasses the Central Texas region of Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties.

For a Spanish version of this notice, please click here.

Individuals with chronic lung disease, such as asthma and emphysema, as well as the elderly and young children, are particularly sensitive to ozone and should attempt to avoid exposure by minimizing exertion outdoors. For more information on ground-level ozone, please visit and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

You can reduce air pollution emissions by simply doing the following:

  • Limit Your Driving on Ozone Action Days. Take your lunch to work, combine errands, ride your bicycle, share a ride or use Capital Metro (click for bus routes).
  • Avoid Idling. Skip the drive-thru lane and park and go inside instead. For information on heavy duty vehicle idling restrictions, please see
  • Postpone Refueling Your Vehicle Until After 6 p.m. Also don’t top-off the tank to prevent the escape of emissions.
  • Postpone Mowing Your Lawn and Using Other Gas-Powered Equipment Until After 6 p.m.
  • Keep Your Vehicle Tuned Up. A well-maintained car operates more efficiently and cleanly.
Clean Air Force

CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas
(512) 225-7780

CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas
P.O. Box 29295
Austin, Texas 78755
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