Weather

San Marcos to ease drought restrictions

November 8th, 2013 at 5:40 pm by under Weather

San Marcos to Return to Stage 2 Drought Restrictions

Effective Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013

Thanks to recent rainfall, the City of San Marcos is returning to Stage 2 drought restrictions effective Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at noon. The Edwards Aquifer Authority returned to Stage 2 this week.

San Marcos has been in drought restrictions for all of 2013. The City began the year in Stage 1 restrictions and progressed to Stage 2 on March 18. A good rainfall event in May enabled the City to briefly return to Stage 1 for the month of June. The City returned to Stage 2 on July 1, and progressed to Stage 3 on August 4, where it has remained until now.

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Stage 2 drought rules restrict use of sprinklers to one day per week on a designated weekday before 10 am or after 8 pm. Hand watering and using soaker hoses or drip irrigation is allowed on any day before 10 am or after 8 pm.

Stage 2 rules also limit at-home car washing to one day per week, and prohibit water waste, filling new pools, using outdoor decorative water features, and washing impervious surfaces.

Full text of the Stage 2 rules can be found on the City of San Marcos website at www.sanmarcostx.gov/drought.

Stage 2 is implemented when the 10-day average Edwards Aquifer index well level falls below 650 feet above mean sea level (msl), or when it rises above the Stage 2 level of 640 feet above msl. On Thursday November 7, the 10 day average aquifer level was at 640.9 feet and the daily reading was 641.7 feet.

“It is essential that residents continue to conserve water” says Tom Taggart, Executive Director of City of San Marcos Public Services. “Both ground and surface water sources remain below average for this time of year.”

 

 


November bird forecast

November 8th, 2013 at 12:15 am by under Weather

What to watch for in November: Duck, duck, duck

Here’s the Central Texas bird forecast for the month, courtesy of Travis 
Audubon. Learn more about Central Texas birds and bird-related events for all ages at travisaudubon.org or by calling 512-300-BIRD. Travis Audubon is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TravisAudubon and give us a like at www.facebook.com/travisaudubon.

Bufflehead by Cris Hazzard via Creative Commons

Bufflehead by Cris Hazzard via Creative Commons

Duck weather

Buffleheads, small, marshmallow-headed ducks, will be showing up on Lady Bird Lake soon. This striking-looking diving duck calls to mind a Rubber Ducky for its amazing buoyancy. It will bob up and down on our waterways through the winter.

Males are black and white from a distance, but up close you can see glossy green and purple that sets off the striking white patch. Females are a subdued gray-brown with a neat white patch on the cheek.

Other ducks coming in on the next cold front will include Lesser Scaups and Canvasbacks. Lesser Scaups are black and white, with black heads, bluish bills and bright yellow eyes. Canvasbacks are larger ducks; the males have white bodies and rusty brown heads, and females are grayish-brown all over. If you see a duck with a sloped head reminiscent of a ski slope, it’s probably a Canvasback.

Northern Flicker by Shanthanu Bhardwaj via Creative Commons

Northern Flicker by Shanthanu Bhardwaj via Creative Commons

Woodpeckers galore

Our year-round Downy, Ladder-backed and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are being joined by related winter residents, such as Northern Flickers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Flickers are large brown woodpeckers with black scalloped edges on their wings, red patches on their heads and white rumps. Sapsuckers are small black-and-white birds with distinct red and white face patterns.

Look for the new arrivals in the same wooded areas as the “locals.” With all the dead trees from the drought, woodpeckers are a happy bunch, with plenty of dry wood to hammer on. Many have been spotted in Bastrop County in areas hit by wildfires in recent years.

Upcoming events

Monthly Travis Audubon meeting, 7 p.m. Nov. 21:
Topic: Why Does Sparrowman Love Central Texas So Much?

Join us in November as Byron Stone, aka Sparrowman and Dr. Birdie, presents on one of his favorite topics: sparrows! His presentation will feature a pictorial overview of sparrows of Central Texas, with commentary about their abundance, identification, distribution and conservation needs.

Field Trips — Check the Travis Audubon website for details
http://travisaudubon.org/get-outdoors/field-trips

Monthly Bird Count at Hornsby Bend
Saturday, November 9, 7 a.m. & 4 p.m.

TAS/FOB Field Trip at Balcones Canyonlands
Sunday, November 10, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Super Tuesday at Bastrop and Buescher State Parks, led by Terry Banks
Tuesday, November 12, 6:30 a.m. to early afternoon

Balcones Preserve/Water Quality Lands Friday Birding Hikes — Bear Creek
Friday, November 15, 8 to 11 a.m.

Hornsby Bend Monthly Bird Walk
Saturday, November 16, 7:30 to 11 a.m.

Commons Ford Monthly Walk
Sunday, November 17, 8 to 11:30 a.m.

Two hour Tuesday at Lake Creek Trail, led by Ray and Ginny Steelman
Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Love Creek Preserve – Birding, Maple Color and Car Camping
Friday-Sunday, November 22-24

Super Tuesday at Northeast Metropolitan Park, led by Dan Callaway
Tuesday, November 26, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Compiled by Travis Audubon volunteers Jane Tillman and Raeanne Martinez


A few freezing temperatures this morning

November 7th, 2013 at 2:22 pm by under Weather

Some rural, low-lying areas experienced the first freeze of the season this morning, with low temperatures falling to 31-32 degrees in parts of the Hill Country. A low of 32 was even reported in Travis County, on Big Sandy Creek near Jonestown. Here’s a full list from the National Weather Service:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
649 AM CST THU NOV 7 2013

...LATEST LOW TEMPERATURE REPORTS...

COUNTY                        TEMP       TIME/DATE

...BASTROP...
2 N ELGIN                      33        0510 AM 11/07
4 WNW CEDAR CREEK              42        0620 AM 11/07
2 WNW BASTROP                  43        0505 AM 11/07
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Satellite falling to earth

November 7th, 2013 at 2:15 pm by under Weather

(CNN) — A European satellite that ran out of fuel will start falling in the next few days, and fragments of the disintegrating 2,000-pound spacecraft are expected to strike the Earth’s surface.

Nobody knows where or when the fragments will hit, but the European Space Agency has said the parts are likely to fall into the ocean or unpopulated areas. Potential spots will be narrowed down closer to re-entry, ESA said on its website.

Re-entry probably will occur Sunday or Monday, Rune Floberghagen, mission manager for the Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Explorer, better known as GOCE, told the New York Times.

GOCE was launched in 2009 to map variations in the Earth’s gravity in 3D, provide ocean circulation patterns and make other measurements.

ESA’s website said the satellite “became the first seismometer in orbit” in March 2011 when it detected sound waves from the earthquake that struck Japan.

GOCE was expected to fall much earlier but fuel consumption was less than expected. In August, the satellite’s altitude was lowered to about 139 miles, lowest of any research satellites, to improve the accuracy of the information being gathered, ESA’s website said.

GOCE ran out of fuel October 21. On November 4, ESA’s website said the satellite was orbiting the Earth at 119 miles and the rate of descent would increase significantly in coming days.


Super Typhoon Haiyan approaches Phillipines with 190 mph winds

November 7th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by under Weather

Courtesy Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground

Super Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most intense tropical cyclones in world history, with sustained winds an incredible 190 mph, gusting to 230 mph, said the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in their 15 UTC (10 am EST) November 7, 2013 advisory. Officially, the strongest tropical cyclone in world history was Super Typhoon Nancy of 1961, with sustained winds of 215 mph. However, it is now recognized (Black 1992) that the maximum sustained winds estimated for typhoons during the 1940s to 1960s were too strong. Since 1969, only three tropical cyclones have equaled Haiyan’s 190 mph sustained winds–the Western Pacific’s Super Typhoon Tip of 1979, the Atlantic’s Hurricane Camille of 1969, and the Atlantic’s Hurricane Allen of 1980. All three of these storms had a hurricane hunter aircraft inside of them to measure their top winds, but Haiyan’s winds were estimated using only satellite images, making its intensity estimate of lower confidence. Some interpretations of satellite intensity estimates suggest that there may have been two super typhoons stronger than Tip–Super Typhoon Gay of 1992, and Super Typhoon Angela of 1995. We don’t have any measurements of Haiyan’s central pressure, but it may be close to the all-time record of 870 mb set by Super Typhoon Tip. The Japan Meteorological Agency estimated Haiyan’s central pressure at 895 mb at 12 UTC (7 am EST) November 7, 2013. Haiyan has the most spectacular appearance I’ve ever seen on satellite loops, with a prominent eye surrounded by a huge, impenetrable-looking mass of intense eyewall thunderstorms with tops that reach into the lower stratosphere. With landfall expected to occur by 21 UTC (4 pm EST) on Thursday, Haiyan doesn’t have time to weaken much before landfall, and will likely hit the Philippines at Category 5 strength.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Super Typhoon Haiyan taken at 4:25 UTC November 7, 2013. At the time, Haiyan was a Category 5 storm with top winds of 175 mph. The Philippines are visible at the left of the image, and the Caroline Islands at the lower right. Image credit: NASA.

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Drought improves in parts of Central Texas

November 7th, 2013 at 12:15 pm by under Weather

In the wake of historic flooding in Austin and impressive rainfall totals from October storms, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows an improving drought situation in Central Texas. Unfortunately, not all of the area is seeing drought diminish.

Currently, there is no drought over eastern Travis County. Abnormally Dry conditions stretch across areas generally east of I-35. Over the Hill Country, however, moderate to extreme drought remains.

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U.S. Drought Monitor from Nov. 7, 2013

Here’s the latest from the NWS:


DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
140 PM CDT THU OCT 17 2013

...THE LAST WEEK HAS SEEN SOME ADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS IN DROUGHT
CONDITIONS ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS...

SYNOPSIS...

OCTOBER HAS SEEN SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL EVENTS DURING THE
FIRST HALF OF THE MONTH. MANY LOCATIONS ARE REPORTING ABOVE TO
WELL ABOVE AVERAGE RAINFALL FOR THE FIRST HALF OF OCTOBER. OTHER
LOCATIONS STILL REMAIN SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE FOR OCTOBER RAINFALL.
THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS WILL SEE SEVERAL AIRMASS CHANGES AND
ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR RAINFALL. THE RECENT WET SPELL HAS
RESULTED IN IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SHORT TERM DROUGHT IMPACTS. LONG
TERM IMPACTS CONTINUE DESPITE THE RAINFALL SINCE WE HAVE BEEN IN A
MULTIPLE YEAR DROUGHT. WE HAVE MANAGED TO GET SOME RIVER RESPONSES
FROM THE RUN OFF AND AREA LAKES HAVE SHOWN SOME SLIGHT
IMPROVEMENTS. MOST LAKE HAVE SEEN RISES OF TWO FEET OR LESS.
RIVERS...LAKES...RESERVOIRS AND AQUIFERS REMAIN VERY LOW AND WILL
CONTINUE THAT WAY UNTIL WE BEGIN TO SEE RAINFALL OCCURRING MORE
FREQUENTLY.

THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER (CPC) IS FORECASTING THE ENSO (EL
NINO SOUTHERN OSCILLATION) NEUTRAL PATTERN TO CONTINUE INTO
SPRING 2014. EVEN THOUGH LA NINA AND EL NINO EVENTS HAVE SIGNIFICANT
IMPACTS ACROSS THE REGION...OTHER CIRCULATIONS ACROSS THE GLOBE
HELP DRIVE WEATHER PATTERNS TOO...SO WE SHOULD NOT JUST BE LOOKING
AT ONE PATTERN...BUT OTHERS AS WELL TO POTENTIALLY PROVIDE
RAINFALL TO THE REGION.

THE US DROUGHT MONITOR (USDM) VALID OCTOBER 15TH AND ISSUED ON
OCTOBER 17TH INDICATED DROUGHT CONDITIONS HAVE IMPROVED SLIGHTLY
OVER THE PAST WEEK. ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) TO EXTREME DROUGHT (D3)
CONDITIONS WERE PRESENT ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS. MOST LOCATIONS
ARE CURRENTLY IN ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) TO MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) STATUS.
THERE CONTINUED TO BE SMALL POCKETS OF EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) ACROSS
THE NORTHERN RIO GRANDE PLAINS AND SMALL PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL
TEXAS.

CURRENTLY 65 PERCENT OF THE STATE IS IN MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) TO
EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4).

SUMMARY OF IMPACTS...

FIRE DANGER IMPACTS...

FIRE DANGER WAS LOW TO MODERATE ACROSS THE AREA DUE TO RECENT
RAINFALL. IF WETTING RAINFALL IS NOT OBSERVED THEN FIRE DANGER
THREATS WILL INCREASE.

AS OF OCTOBER 17TH...BURN BANS WERE IN EFFECT FOR 3 COUNTIES IN
SOUTH CENTRAL TEXAS. THE COUNTIES WITH ESTABLISHED OUTDOOR BURN
BANS INCLUDE:

ATASCOSA
BEXAR
DIMMIT

COUNTIES THAT CURRENTLY HAVE NO BURN BANS IN PLACE:

BANDERA    DEWITT       GUADALUPE  LAVACA     TRAVIS
BASTROP    EDWARDS      HAYS       LEE        UVALDE
BLANCO     FAYETTE      KARNES     LLANO      VAL VERDE
BURNET     FRIO         KENDALL    MAVERICK   WILLIAMSON
CALDWELL   GILLESPIE    KERR       MEDINA     WILSON
COMAL      GONZALES     KINNEY     REAL       ZAVALA

RESIDENTS IN ALL COUNTIES SHOULD CONTACT THEIR LOCAL COUNTY
WEB SITE...JUDGE`S OFFICE OR FIRE MARSHALL BEFORE DECIDING TO
CONDUCT ANY TYPE OF OUTDOOR BURNING AS BURN BANS MAY BE ISSUED
BEFORE THE NEXT UPDATE OF THIS DROUGHT STATEMENT.

THE OCTOBER 17TH COUNTY KEETCH-BYRAM DROUGHT INDEX (KBDI) SHOWED
THE FOLLOWING KBDI VALUES:

KBDI VALUES:

     0-200                  200-300           300-400     400-500

BLANCO     HAYS        ATASCOSA   KERR         BEXAR      BANDERA
BURNET     LEE         BASTROP    KINNEY       DEWITT     KARNES
CALDWELL   MAVERICK    CALDWELL   LLANO        FRIO
COMAL      REAL        FAYETTE    UVALDE       LAVACA
DIMMIT     TRAVIS      GILLESPIE  VAL VERDE    MEDINA
EDWARDS    WILLIAMSON  GONZALES   ZAVALA
GUADALUPE              KENDALL

THE TEXAS FOREST SERVICE USES THE KBDI AS A MEANS FOR RELATING
CURRENT AND RECENT WEATHER CONDITIONS TO POTENTIAL OR EXPECTED
FIRE BEHAVIOR. THE KBDI IS A NUMERICAL INDEX CALCULATED DAILY
FOR EACH COUNTY. EACH NUMBER IS AN ESTIMATE OF THE AMOUNT OF
PRECIPITATION...IN HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH...NEEDED TO BRING THE
SOIL BACK TO SATURATION. THE INDEX RANGES FROM ZERO TO 800...WITH
ZERO REPRESENTING A SATURATED SOIL AND 800 A COMPLETELY DRY SOIL.
REMEMBER...THAT FIRE DANGER CAN CHANGE QUICKLY FROM ONE DAY TO
ANOTHER AS WINDS AND RELATIVE HUMIDITY VARY.

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First Frost Advisory of the season issued

November 6th, 2013 at 3:42 pm by under Weather

The National Weather Service has issued the season’s first Frost Advisory for parts of the KXAN viewing area, effective early Thursday morning. This Advisory includes Lampasas, San Saba, and Mason counties in the Hill Country. Details below.

11-6 Frost Advisory


An area of high pressure will build over the area during Wednesday night/Thursday morning, providing light winds and dry air. This will allow temperatures to rapidly fall after sunset and through the overnight hours. Temperatures by daybreak Thursday are expected to be in the low to middle 30s across much of the area.

With mostly clear skies and light winds overnight, areas of frost are expected to develop mainly along and northwest of a line from Copperas Cove to Fort Worth to McKinney to Sulphur Springs. Thus a Frost Advisory has been issued for those areas. Remember to cover or bring indoors your sensitive plants. Lows tonight across North and Central Texas will range from the lower 30s to around 40 degrees.

Edwards Aquifer drought to be over within weeks

November 6th, 2013 at 1:21 pm by under Weather

From the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District

bseacd
With two months of above-average rainfall and two exceptional rain events, the end of the drought in the District is near. Water levels in the Barton Springs segment of the Edwards Aquifer started edging up in late-September following several moderate rain events.
Runoff from rainfall leads to flow in the creeks that cross the recharge zone, which leads to recharge through fractures, sinkholes, and caves in the creek beds.
Increasing moisture in the soils brought about the increase in runoff, creek flow and recharge following each rain event. With this recharge taking place, the slow rise in the aquifer continued until October 12 and 13 when up to 12 inches of rain occurred over parts of the recharge zone.
At the District Office in Manchaca, 6.5 inches fell over a 9-hour period from October 12 to 13. Lesser amounts fell on the Edwards Aquifer contributing zone. That was enough to cause water levels in the aquifer to start rising at a significant rate. Between October 12 and October 30, the water level in the Lovelady monitor well, one of the District’s drought trigger sites, had come up about 9 feet.
This rise in water levels prompted the District’s Board of Directors to declare a change in drought status from Critical (Stage 3) to Alarm (Stage 2) on October 17. Another one to two inches of rain fell on October 27 that brought about an increase in flow in the creeks and recharge to the aquifer. While the soils were highly saturated, another “rain bomb” occurred, similar to the October 12 and 13 storm, bringing up to 10 inches of rain to some parts of the recharge zone and 3 to 5 inches of rain over much of the contributing zone.
Stream flow from this rain caused significant flooding in low-water crossings and in low-lying areas adjacent to the creeks. Flow at Barton Springs is now well above average and the water level in the Lovelady monitor well is rising at least a half foot per day.
At this rate, the aquifer is likely to be out of drought altogether by mid to late November.
Now if only the Highland Lakes could get some of this rain and runoff and fill up to capacity again!
-BRIAN SMITH, ALAN ANDREWS, AND
BRIAN HUNT, HYDROGEOLOGISTS

Rain, then a cold front Wednesday

November 5th, 2013 at 8:37 pm by under Weather

A cold front will approach the area in the morning with showers and thunderstorms forming along and ahead of the system. Some areas could receive 1 inch of rain, some isolated totals up to 2 inches are also possible. Most of the rain will be along and east of Interstate 35 including the Austin area. Winds will be shifting to the north behind the front with speeds of 15 to 20 mph, maybe some higher gusts by late afternoon. High temperatures will range from the upper 60s in the Hill Country to the lower 80s over the south and Rio Grande Plains. (National Weather Service)

Parts of Pacific warming 15 times faster than in past 10,000 years

November 4th, 2013 at 1:16 pm by under Weather
Hyalinea balthica fossils are painstakingly separated from grains of sand and then analyzed by mass spectrometers. (Rudy Diaz, Columbia University) 
A recent slowdown in global warming has led some skeptics to renew their claims that industrial carbon emissions are not causing a century-long rise in Earth’s surface temperatures. But rather than letting humans off the hook, a new study in the leading journal Science adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000.