Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

After Days of Rain, the Drought is Still Here

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

An empty rain gauge is strapped to a fence post on the edge of a pasture this summer near Canadian, Texas

Rains fell across much of Texas the past few days. The Dallas-Fort Worth area received between three and four inches of rain, Houston got under an inch, and Austin got a good soaking of two inches.

So what effect have these rains had on the drought?

“It’s really not a big change at all,” says Bob Rose, Chief Meteorologist with the Lower Colorado Authority, which oversees water in Central Texas. “Our lake levels didn’t rise hardly at all,” Rose says. “And even for area aquifer levels, this didn’t have a huge effect on them either. This was a start in getting us out of the drought, but this by no means ended the drought at all.”

The situation in Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t much different. “We’re going to need more rain than we’ve gotten,” says Bob Carle, Senior Hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. “Looking at an area above Lake Lavon northeast of Dallas that picked up widespread three to four inches of rainfall, the river gauges there had virtually no reaction. So the bulk of the rainfall is soaking into the ground.” The ground is so dry, it’s absorbing the rain like a sponge. Carle says the lake, a major water source, rose just over half a foot.

So while the rain has been good for thirsty lawns, ranch ponds and next spring’s wildflowers, it has hardly put a dent in the drought. Central Texas still needs 18-25 inches of rain to end the drought, and Dallas-Fort Worth lakes are all down by several feet.

Is there any more on the way? For Austin and Central Texas, things don’t look great. “We’re really enjoying this period right now while the rain is coming into Texas, but I don’t think it’s going to last that much longer,” Rose says.

And in Dallas-Fort Worth and North Texas, it’s going to go back into a dry weather pattern until at least next weekend. “I’m not very hopeful for much more rain in the short term,” Carle says.

In Houston, the Chronicle’s SciGuy Eric Berger reports that even though the city’s seen a wetter than normal November, “it’s worth remembering that the city of Houston is still more than 20 inches of rain behind its normal rainfall totals for the year.” Berger says that Houston’s next chance for rain could come next week.

Here’s hoping for a wet Christmas in Texas.


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