What would it take to end the drought?

March 30th, 2013 at 11:01 am by under Weather

With rain in the forecast, I thought I would respond to a few drought-related questions I received from KXAN viewer Emily Franco.

Is it even possible for it to rain enough to no longer officially be in a drought?

It sure is.. but it would take a lot.

Two months ago I spoke with water availability expert Dr. Jordan Furnans about the current state of the drought, and what it would take to pull us out of it.

He said that to restore the Highland lakes to average levels (a common measure of the drought), we would first need a good, soaking rainfall to saturate the ground. This would allow future rainfall to runoff into the lakes instead of just being absorbed by the thirsty, sponge-like soil.

After that slow, soaking rain, Dr. Furnans calculated that it would take 7.5″ of rainfall over more than half of the lake inflow region to restore lake levels to where they should be.

Has it ever rained that much here in one year?

Forget one year – how about one night!

In September 1952, overnight rains of up to 15 inches in the lake inflow region caused Lake Travis to rise 57 feet in 14 hours(!) – still a record for the highest, fastest rise of the lake.

When is our rainiest month and is there any hope for this year?

With records dating back to 1856, Camp Mabry’s rainiest month is May with an average monthly rainfall of 4.31″.

With that said, the outlook for the next 3 months (April/May/June) from the Climate Prediction Center calls for drier than normal conditions persisting in central Texas.

The 3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

The 3-month precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

Thanks for writing, Emily!

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