Monday, February 02, 2009

The Central Texas Drought

I tend to measure droughts by how low my pond is. While my pond is pretty low, it was much lower in the early 1990's. I knew we were short on rain, but until the last few days I did not realize how dry we are. We ate at the Oasis overlooking Lake Travis so I knew the water levels there were down as well.

Last week I saw KXAN Weatherman, Jim Spencer's Blog that notes that we are now the worst drought area in the United States. He mentions a D4 drought. So I googled and found National Drought Mitigation Center site from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. One page has all the classification of drought with the effects that go with them. They also have a page with a US map that looks to be updated weekly with area information and forecasts.

At Sparrowfest this weekend, one of our leaders commented that we had a new level of drought - Extreme used to be the driest, but now we have "exceptional." And we are in an "exceptional" drought right now. I'm hearing that it is the driest it has been since the 1950's. For the sparrows, it means their food sources are very scarce. Last summer it was so dry that the grass did not make seeds - so most of the migrating sparrows have had to winter elsewhere this year. I grew up in the 1950's and remember the dust bowl days. There was so much dust in the air that it would find its way in under the closed windows.

Tonight we have a cold front coming in. I saw lightning in the distance to the east, but when I checked the radar, it is a long way from my house and moving the wrong direction. A cold front is coming in which is going to drop our humidity down. Our severe weather alert says that fire danger is high from the low humidity and the winds that are coming through with the cold front.

According to the weather reporter in the Galveston Daily News, the La Nina pattern that contributes to our dry conditions is also likely to bring a strong tropical storm season.

While I know that weather is always cyclical, sometimes when it is this dry, it is hard to believe that it will REALLY rain again in sufficient quantities. For some of our wildflowers it is already to late for moisture to help. However, if we could get just a little rain in the next few weeks, there are other wildflower species that would still bloom if we can just get some rain.

As for my pond, when my pond has water and the other ponds are dry, I get waterfowl in the winter. But, the bad news, when my pond gets really really low and the rains do begin, mine is one of the last to fill because there are at least two or three other ponds above it in the water channel. I'm hoping that we get more rain so my pond does not get down as low as it was 15 years ago - when there were only 2 small puddles where the springs are.

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