• December 18, 2014

Rains soaked dry ground but not enough to refill area lakes

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:30 am

The National Weather Service reported 2.95 inches of rainfall in the Killeen-Fort Hood area as of 5:15 p.m. Wednesday — enough to soak the dry ground but not enough to refill area lakes.

The heaviest rains fell north and east of Killeen — Waco broke its all-time record for January with 4.57 inches and Temple received about 3.7 inches, officials said.

While the rain was welcome, the extremely dry soil conditions meant most of the water did not make it to Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes, said Brad Brunett, water services manager at Brazos River Authority.

In October 2011, Belton Lake was 71 percent full and Stillhouse Hollow was 61 percent full, according to the BRA, which manages 11 reservoirs in the Brazos River Basin.

On Jan. 1, BRA put Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes at between 82 and 85 percent full.

“In terms of refilling the lakes, at how low they are, this rainfall is not really significant,” Brunett said.

As reservoirs continue to creep up over the next couple of days, Brunett said, the two lakes will generate between 4 and 6 inches from Wednesday’s rain event, a small amount compared to the 6 to 6½ feet needed to fill the lakes to predrought levels.

“It really depends on how big the gap is between rain events,” Brunett said. “Once you have the rain, it depends on how fast and how big of an area it falls on.”

Now that the ground has been soaked thoroughly, if the region experiences another 3 to 4 inches of rain in a short span of time, the runoff may be enough to bring lakes back to normal levels, Brunett said.

Rain expectations

Wednesday’s rain event was characterized by slow-moving light rain without heavy wind or dense storms, perfect conditions for soaking dry soil.

Eric Martello, a National Weather Service senior meteorologist, said the upper-level low-pressure system moving in from Mexico combined with cool temperatures is a common recipe for moderate, sustained soaking.

“It was a very good, beneficial rainfall that we all needed and everybody wanted, and it has not caused too many problems,” Martello said.

Today’s forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of showers before 7 a.m.

As the system moves out, skies are expected to clear for a high near 60 degrees.

Clear skies are expected to last through Friday with a 40 percent chance of rain returning after 7 a.m. Saturday and lasting through most of the weekend.

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