AUSTIN (KXAN) - After nearly a month-long dry spell, rain and thunderstorms spread across Central Texas Thursday.
Extraordinarily torrential rain was reported over parts of the Hill Country. An LCRA rain gauge on the Pedernales River at Johnson City recorded 4.27 inches of rain in one hour. That is considered a once-in-100 year one-hour rainfall rate. 5 inches fell in one hour and 10 minutes.
7.15 inches fell in three hours 5 miles southwest of Leander. Many locations near Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Round Mountain and Johnson City received 4-5 inches of rain or more.
The cold front triggering the rain is expected to move slowly to the Texas coast Friday, but an upper level, low-pressure system will hang back over West Texas, continuing to produce periods of lighter rain and a few thunderstorms into the weekend.
The main storm system is forecast to move across the state Sunday, bringing an end to the rainfall.
The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is forecasting general rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches across the KXAN viewing area through Sunday. Isolated 4-inch totals will be possible.
While there may be a few strong thunderstorms and some minor flooding, the severe weather threat is minimal.
The last measurable rain in Austin fell on Aug. 18.
The weekly Drought Monitor, updated Thursday, indicated a rapidly worsening drought, with much of the Hill Country and parts of the Austin metro area returning to the "severe drought" category, meaning this rainfall is very timely.
This storm may be related to developing El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean. The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting the development of an El Nino (warmer than average sea surface temperatures) this month. It is common during El Nino periods to see storms, like the one bringing the rainfall now, move slowly across the southern U.S.
It is hoped that a series of southern El Nino-related storms over the coming fall and winter will help end the two-year drought.
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