A steady stream of showers and thunderstorms swept across the Austin area Tuesday, delivering a second day of much-needed moisture in what has been a dry start to summer in Central Texas.
“We need the rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brett Williams said. “We’ve been dry this year so far for most of the area.”
Forecasters expect showers to continue Wednesday, likely bringing the rainfall total in the Travis County area up to 3 inches in some places.
Williams said heavier downpours are expected to be concentrated in eastern Travis County. On Tuesday, Williams said much of western Travis County will probably see about an inch of rain or less.
Some of Tuesday’s heaviest downpours came early in the afternoon as bands of thunderstorms rolled into Austin, breaking apart as they continue to charge farther west.
By 3 p.m., most of Central Austin had received a little more than a half-inch of rain in the previous 24-hour period, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Rain gauges in Bastrop and Fayette counties picked up 1.32 inches in Smithville and 1.24 inches in La Grange during the same period.
Though sustained rains washed over the area in sporadic bursts over the last two days, they did not have any significant impact on levels at Lake Travis or Lake Buchanan. According to the LCRA, Buchanan was about a foot lower than the level recorded 30 days ago, but still 1.16 feet above its June average.
Lake Travis, however, was a little more than 7 feet below its average.
“As of midafternoon Tuesday, rainfall totals in the Hill Country watershed that feeds the Highland Lakes have been less than a tenth of an inch,” said John Hofmann, LCRA executive vice president of water. “That is not enough rain to generate runoff that could flow into our water supply lakes.”
The National Weather Service said storms are expected to continue in Central Texas through Thursday. By then, rainfall totals could reach 3 inches in some areas.
Weather service meteorologist Yvette Benavides said this round of rain comes from a tropical wave that moved inland.
“We are in hurricane season,” Benavides said. “That runs June 1 through the end of November, so it’s not uncommon to see us get these bursts of moisture from the tropics.”
Before the storms began earlier in the week, the region had seen abnormally dry conditions in May and the first part of June.
“As soon as this system moves out of the area we will have a better idea of how much rain we got in the area, and we can assess to see what side of normal we are on,” she said.
Chances for showers and thunderstorms were forecast at 60 percent Wednesday, but will then taper off to about 30 percent overnight. A 30 percent chance for showers will remain Thursday and drop to around 20 percent Friday before sunny skies return over the weekend.