Extreme Drought 2013 in Austin, Texas
After two years of minimal rain, Lake Travis continues to decrease, approaching thirty percent full. Even though there have been bouts of rain with several inches of accumulation, the effect on area lakes has been minimal. Lake businesses maintained over many months of adverse conditions, but have finally abandoned their efforts. Restaurants and marinas have been driven from their place of business by the low lake levels!
Lake TravisClick thumbnail to view full-size
How Bad Is It?
The main body of Lake Travis reflects the lowered lake levels. Sometimes Island, normally buried under the water's surface, has become not just an island, but a peninsula in the middle of the lake. The large bathtub ring reflecting past water levels can be seen around the Lake.
Lake Travis VegetationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Looking down a boat ramp, long ago abandoned because of lake levels, the bare terrain has become overgrown with greenery of all types. An ivy ground cover is hiding small pebbles next to the ramp and is now beginning to cover the surface of the boat ramp.
GrassClick thumbnail to view full-size
Wild Grass Takes Over
Walking down the boat ramp, it becomes clear that the lower the ground level, the bigger the vegetation. This grass at the bottom of the ramp was taller than six feet. Where the shallow water once stood, a short green carpet covers the entire area. Recent rains have helped to make it very green.
Bottom of the RampClick thumbnail to view full-size
The End Of The Ramp
At the bottom of the boat ramp, the surface Is a bed of rock. under normal conditions, the water is too deep at this point to stand up. Vegetation is now lush and thriving on the stony floor!
Trees Growing TallClick thumbnail to view full-size
Trees Are Growing
Any water that flows into Lake Travis after a rainstorm will flow into the lowest parts of the lake, forming a small stream leading into the main part of the lake. As the main body of the lake refills, the outlying areas will then begin to fill with excess water. Until there is an excess of water, there is a small stream of water weaving along the rocky terrain.
This well watered area, about three feet wide, is harvesting a healthy crop of trees! There are vast expanses of grass covered areas leading down to clusters of trees. They can be seen in the distance and at the bottom of the boat ramp.
These trees have grown so much over the past year or two that it appears the trees will be taller than the lake level when things return to normal!
It seems that the weather patterns are changing! The high pressure system is not perched over Texas as it has been for most of the drought. We have had several good rains, over two inches of rain each time. Lake Travis rose more than a foot during a recent storm. The rain fell directly over the lakes which contributed to the watershed and runoff after the storm.
I am once again hopeful that the water levels will return to normal. It may be a lengthy and gradual process since the hurricanes have been few and we are leaving that season. Meanwhile I am watching the gorgeous clouds as they gather over us...and praying for rain!