Lake Travis slow to rise despite recent rains

Map of lake levels Lower Colorado River Authority's Hydromet website shows lake levels for Lake Travis and the rest of the Highland Lakes.[/caption]

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.”
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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