AUSTIN (KXAN) - If you are tired of hearing the word "drought," it is with good reason.
More than half of the state of Texas has now officially been in a drought for the last two years.
"There are houses on the street that say waterfront – it's like, is that a joke?" Volente resident Dottie Gattilia said.
Gattilia has lived on the shores of Lake Travis for 10 years. She remembers how things used to be.
"Oh, we went out on the boat all the time," Gattilia said. "We have a canoe and a rowboat, we swam _ it used to be so beautiful."
But the section of Lake Travis near Volente Beach has not seen consistent water for nearly two full years. A full 23 months ago, Central Texas fell deep into a drought – and has not been able to escape.
Although the drought is ongoing, conditions have improved from where they were last year at this time.
One year ago, 100 percent of the state was in some degree of drought, with 69.6 percent in the most serious "exceptional" category.
Currently, the percentage of Texas that is in some form of drought has fallen to 85 percent, with less than 4 percent in the exceptional category.
For the past several months, forecasters have been expecting the onset of warmer ocean temperatures near the Equator in the Pacific Ocean – a natural cycle more commonly called El Niño. El Niño has a tradition of bringing wet winters to central Texas.
Talk of a developing El Niño pattern this winter has kept hopes high that Central Texas would finally see lake levels rise. But the latest outlooks indicate that El Niño may not be developing as forecasters had hoped – leaving central Texas with more dry days, and boat ramps leading to dry lakebeds.
The sputtering development of El Niño thus far prompted the Climate Prediction Center to adjust its winter outlook, now projecting just the normal low rainfall that winters usually bring, instead of the wet conditions residents had hoped for.
Climatologists say that the Texas drought could continue for several years.
"We'll just have to be patient," Gattilia said. "We don't have much choice."
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