Rainfall offers little relief from statewide drought

Will Alsdorf

The rainstorm that covered Austin early Wednesday morning just after midnight may have been a welcome relief after months without rain, but don’t expect it to have any significant impact on the statewide drought.

The drought started in October and currently covers 96 percent of the state, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor and the Lower Colorado River Authority, which manages water supplies in Central and Southeast Texas. Tuesday’s storm brought less than two inches of rain to Austin, according to the Authority’s network of remote gauges used to measure rainfall.

“In terms of the drought, [the rainfall] won’t make much of a difference,” said spokeswoman Clara Tuma. “It was a drop in the bucket.”

While the rain will be helpful on a small scale, such as for watering people’s lawns and lowering temperatures, virtually none of it made it to the lakes and rivers, Tuma said.

“The ground just soaked it up. It was so dry,” she said. “There wasn’t much runoff.”

Senior geography lecturer and local KEYE weatherman Troy Kimmel said the shower doesn’t mean more storms in coming days.

“Obviously, anything helps, but one rainfall does not get you out [of a drought],” Kimmel said. “It’s going to take a lot of soaking rain to get the earth around here to be what it should be.”

More rain within the next week is very unlikely, though there may be thunderstorms Thursday, he said.

“Rain chances are basically absent through next Wednesday,” Kimmel said, adding that the Gulf of Mexico may cause unexpected weather to arise.

Broadcast news journalism senior James Leslie, who grew up in Chicago, said he welcomed the temporary temperature change the rain brought.

“It’s way too hot around here,” he said. “Standing out in the rain [Tuesday] night was great.”