AUSTIN (KXAN) - For Central Texas, it's been one of those rare-history making weather events that when you look back years later, you'll be able to say you survived the summer of 2011.
But experiencing it day by day doesn't really put it in perspective. When you look at the big picture, it was astonishing.
Every major Texas heat record was broken. In our area, they tumbled like dominoes:
- Hottest summer ever
- Hottest month ever
- Hottest July
- Hottest August
- Tie for hottest September
- Hottest August temperature
- Most 100-degree days
- Most consecutive 100-degree days
- Most 100 degree days in August and September
- Most 90-degree days
- Most consecutive 90-degree days
- Hottest average monthly high
- Highest average monthly low
So why was it so incredibly hot? Blame the drought. A lack of soil moisture results in hotter temperatures. So it's no surprise all kinds of heat records were broken since virtually all moisture disappeared during the most intense one-year drought in state history.
In more than 150 years of record keeping, Austin has never had a drier year. In fact, tree ring records dating to 1550 show only one other year, 1789, with a similar summer drought.
Blame la Nina. The dry weather pattern resulting from a cooler than normal pool of Pacific Ocean water. It formed 12 months ago, ended in late spring.
But it has now has returned in a rare back-to-back cycle. And that's terrible new for that state's agriculture industry, which is already suffering the worst losses in history.
Looking ahead, the future is potentially dire. The state climatologist said there is a 1-in-4 chance this drought could last until 2020. That would be similar to the Texas drought of record, from the mid 1940s to mid-1950s.
But Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose is less pessimistic.
"It is possible that this could be the start of a long term drought," Rose said. "But the science just isn't there to predict this will be an eight-, nine- or 10-year drought."
And, it's important to note that even if this drought persists for a decade, there will certainly be rainy periods. Like a storm in 1952 that refilled Lake Travis overnight.
"We saw anywhere between 26 and 28 inches of rain in the overnight period across Gillespie and Llano counties," he said. "Because of that high flow, the level of the lake came up 57 feet in a 24 hour period of time. The lake was down around 615 at the time of this massive flood, but the lake just filled--it never spilled, and never went above the level we consider full on Lake Travis."
The expected winter weather has delayed initial construction work on MoPac until the rain and cold temperatures pass through.
A teacher from Texas was shot and killed while jogging in Benghazi, Libyan officials confirmed Thursday.
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.
A bitterly cold arctic air mass plunging through Central Texas is breaking temperature records, and will be followed by a dangerous, potentially damaging ice storm.
The HealthCare.gov website is working more smoothly for central Texans.
City leaders in West Lake Hills discussed the ongoing concern with the city's water system Wednesday night. The problems arise when water is needed most; fighting fires.