AUSTIN (KXAN) - The wet ground caused by the rainy spring in Central Texas has helped keep summer temperatures in this part of the country lower than they were last year.
And they kept the dreaded hot and dry pattern from last summer from repeating itself over Texas this year.
"Last year when we were still in the middle of a La Nina, the high-pressure set up across Texas and didn't want to move," said Bob Rose, a meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. "But this year, it moved to where the dry ground was, and the drier ground was really across the Midwest and the Plains -- and not so much Texas."
The drought last year left a major dent in the Highland Lakes chain. Combined storage in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan fell to its third-lowest reading ever last winter. But it's since been able to rebound a bit from spring rainfall.
Lake levels have not been falling as rapidly this summer partially due to the this year's periodic rains. The recent change LCRA made to its water-release policy also helped Central Texas lakes.
The LCRA made an agreement with rice growers downstream that if the water in the lakes remained below a certain storage capacity, the LCRA would not make water releases for agriculture downstream.
"With this change in policy this year alone, we have seen that the decline on the level of Lake Travis has been somewhere around a half-foot to a foot per week," Rose said. "Last year at this time, the lake was declining about 1-2 feet per week. So it has had a significant difference."
Overall, Texas is in much better shape right now than it was last August.
A year ago, nearly 80 percent of Texas was in the highest drought category on the scale – exceptional drought. As of last week, less than 1 percent of Texas fell into that category.
And it does look like more relief is on the way. El Nino conditions expected this winter usually bring wet weather to the state, and this year shouldn't be any exception.
"We'll end up with above normal rainfall which hopefully will translate into more runoff into the lakes," Rose said. "Maybe our lakes will even fill over the winter months."
And we might not even have to wait that long for some relief. An increase in moisture from the Gulf this weekend, combined with an upper-level disturbance, should bring central Texas a decent shot at some wetting rainfall this weekend into early next week.
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