Wednesday, December 31, 2008
How dry is it?
So dry that it was the driest year in Austin in 52 years. Not since the infamous Drought of the 50s has it been so dry. It's the fourth driest year on record in Austin and the swath between Austin and New Braunfels is in the most extreme category (exceptional) that the National Weather Service has for dry spells. (Click on the headline to see the national map that shows Central Texas to be drier than anywhere else.
It's so dry, it's time for those of us living in the Hill Country to embrace the Chihuahuan Desert. Five climate zones converge in the Hill Country including the desert, the woodlands, the plains, the coast, and the brush country. Right now, we're more desert than tropics for sure.
It's so dry that wells around us are no longer producing water - southern Hays County, where I live, and northern Comal County will be some of the first areas of the state to exhaust their groundwater supplies in light of increased use and diminishing rains, according to groundwater computer models for the future. We have rainwater harvesting, but the tank is dry since we've had no appreciable rain since late August, and really, no long term relief since September 2007. At least I can truck in water to fill up the rainwater tank if the well goes dry, and as we all know, you don't miss your water, til your well goes dry.
Predictions for the next six months are for the drought to persist, so I've been thinking alot about what will happen if it doesn't rain in the winter or spring. There's still a little bit of the Blanco River flowing near where I live, but downstream in Wimberley, it is almost gone. It dried up completely in 1956, oldtimers tell me. No rain for six months assures its disappearance altogether, meaning no garden, no crops, no lawn, no watering, less showers, and more tinder for fires, meaning more Red Flag Warning days when dry, hot winds are blowing. Also, no kayaking, no swimming in the river, no nuthin.'
Elmer Kelton's book The Time It Never Rained is in the pile of books next to the bed. I see Mr. Kelton at book events all across state and enjoy visiting with him. But it's time to crack open his best book again, and relive what happened fifty years ago to prepare for what's to come. Happy New Year. I hope it rains on the parade.
JANUARY 6 UPDATE
One half inch of rain this morning at the house. Hard to tell it rained, other than the gauge and the soil feeling kind of spongy.