Lakes Travis and Buchanan barely took a sip of water from this week’s storms that left between 1 and 5 inches of rain around Central Texas.
The region’s two primary reservoirs gained about 9,000 acre-feet of water, or less than half a percent of their total storage, as a result of the storms. By Wednesday afternoon, Lake Travis had risen by one foot and Lake Buchanan by two inches. They were 41 percent full, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages the lakes.
“The drought has really dried out the basin, so when we get isolated storms like this, it does a good job of filling up what the soil can handle. That’s when we would love (another) really great rain storm to come along,” said Dan Yates, the LCRA’s supervisor of river operations.
The National Weather Service is not forecasting any rain for the rest of the week.
When rain falls in the Hill Country area that feeds the Highland Lakes, water typically runs into streams and creeks and on into the lakes, but, because the area’s soil has been parched by a stubborn drought now in its third year, that runoff was diminished Wednesday.
The lakes would need an additional 1.2 million acre-feet of water to be replenished. An acre-foot is roughly enough water for three Central Texas households in a year.
The lakes got nearly that much water — 1 million acre-feet — after the famed “rain bomb” of June 2007, when about 19 inches of rain drenched Marble Falls. In terms of the Tuesday and Wednesday storms, Yates said, “I need 132.66 of them.”
“We need a rainy season to get out of the drought,” Yates said.
Travis, Williamson and Hays counties lifted their outdoor burn bans Wednesday, though officials urged caution when burning. Also, the city of Austin closed Barton Springs Pool, citing overnight flooding. Officials have not said when the pool would reopen.
After Camp Mabry and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw record rainfall Tuesday, the airport saw another record Wednesday with 0.45 inches by late afternoon, surpassing the 0.2 inches recorded on the same date in 2000. At Camp Mabry, the Weather Service reported 0.36 inches by late afternoon.