Near-daily rainfall since May 5 has made only a small impact on drought-depleted Lake Travis and the rest of the Highland Lakes.
Lake Travis has increased a foot-and-a-half since May 1, according to Lower Colorado River Authority data. LCRA’s Hydromet website shows parts of the Lake Travis watershed—the area where rain runoff eventually flows into the lake—receiving as much as 5 inches of rain the past two weeks. By contrast, parts of the city of Austin recorded nearly 8 inches of rain during that same span.
“This has been a good rain, but it was not enough to make a significant difference in lake levels,” LCRA spokesperson Clara Tuma said via email. “The drought near the Highland Lakes is continuing.”
Lake Travis on May 15 reached 40 percent capacity, or 631 feet mean sea level. That is 7.68 feet msl more than the start of the year and 5.52 feet msl more than this same time last year. Nonetheless, Lake Travis is still nearly 40 feet msl below the historical May average. Combined, the Highland Lakes are 39 percent full.
LCRA historical data shows lake levels have not been this high in May since 2012 when Lake Travis was 641.26 feet msl. Thunderstorms are forecasted each day through Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“The ground now is saturated,” Tuma said. “If we could get additional storms over the next few days, we would expect to see greater runoff because of the saturated soil. Ideally, we’d love to see a series of storms like this over a relatively short period of time.”