GATESVILLE — Recent storms brought welcome rain to Coryell County, but more precipitation is needed to relieve the lingering drought.
Thunderstorms over the past two weeks left more than 4 inches of rain in some parts of the county and helped return some water flow to the Leon River.
After last week’s storm moved through the area, the Leon was up to 5.4 feet Thursday morning at the National Weather Service gauge in Gatesville.
Five days earlier, the river was measured at 5.8 feet following a cloudburst that left more than 2 inches of rain in the area.
The effect of the rain was short-lived, however. The Leon dropped back to 3 feet the day after each storm, which was still higher than the previous month’s level.
The water level at Belton Lake, which provides water to Gatesville, has remained at around 586 feet for the month, according to National Weather Service data, rising less than 2 inches following the recent storm.
Belton Lake is at 79 percent capacity, according to Texas Water Development Board data.
Drought-parched land sucked up most of the rainfall, leaving little runoff to recharge the reservoir, said Rob Giacomozzi, park ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Belton Lake.
Normal annual rainfall for Coryell County is about 32 inches, but the county hasn’t seen an amount close to the average since 2002 when the county received 33.32 inches.
Most years since then have been below 30 inches, with exceptions being wet years in 2004 and 2007 with rainfall above 50 inches and, in some cases, destructive flooding.
As of this week, both Belton Lake and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir (81 percent full) are faring better than the state average for reservoirs, with the combined supply of all reservoirs hovering at 66 percent capacity, according to Texas Water Development Board data.
One year ago, Belton Lake was 100 percent full and Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir was 96 percent full.
Assuming the current drought continues, Belton Lake would drop to 64 percent capacity and Stillhouse Hollow to 79 percent by June 30. The region needs between 6 and 9 inches of rainfall to escape drought conditions, according to the National Weather Service.