AUSTIN — Central Texas welcomed a day of steady, sometimes heavy rain. But a meteorologist said it will take more than that to break a long and persistent drought that has parched the region and largely dried up its lakes.
The rain came from the combined remnants of hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid, both of which came ashore in Mexico. Starting Thursday evening, rain continued to fall over much of Texas throughout Friday before abating late Friday night and early Saturday.
Southeast Texas reported the most rainfall Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, topped by 6.30 inches in Liberty. But more critical was the rainfall in the Central Texas river watersheds.
Camp Mabry in Austin reported 2.61 inches of rain on Friday while Burnet, upstream on the Colorado River, reported 2.07 inches.
It’s not enough to break the drought that has drained and evaporated the region’s lakes to a fraction of their usual water levels. Nevertheless, it will offer short-term relief, Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose said.
“A lot of this rain is falling right over the watershed to the Highland Lakes. We’re getting a lot of good rain from western Gillespie County all the way to Lampasas, from 2 to 5 inches,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.
The National Weather Service recorded just more than 3 inches of rain in Waco on Friday, with some nearby locales receiving more than 6 inches. The Lake Waco water level rose about 3 inches but was still 7½ feet below normal, according to the Texas Water Development Board, lower than measured during the record 2011 drought.
Killeen reported 1.7 inches of rain on Friday, and Temple recorded 1.77 inches, but Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes had yet to report impact from runoff Saturday.
“So far, I don’t think we’ve had any lake come up more than 6 or 8 inches,” Brad Brunett, Brazos River Authority water services manager, told the Waco Tribune-Herald.
Nevertheless, “A rain like this boosts everybody’s attitude, especially in agriculture,” Shane McLellan, McLennan County agriculture extension agent, told the Tribune-Herald.