drought

Environment
4:37 am
Fri November 23, 2012

An Arbor Embolism? Why Trees Die In Drought

A forest near Trieste, Italy, is largely dead owing to drought stress during the summer of 2012.
Andrea Nardini Nature

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:53 pm

Scientists who study forests say they've discovered something disturbing about the way prolonged drought affects trees.

It has to do with the way trees drink. They don't do it the way we do — they suck water up from the ground all the way to their leaves, through a bundle of channels in a part of the trunk called the xylem. The bundles are like blood vessels.

When drought dries out the soil, a tree has to suck harder. And that can actually be dangerous, because sucking harder increases the risk of drawing air bubbles into the tree's plumbing.

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Texas
7:07 am
Fri November 2, 2012

La Niña Could Bring More Drought to Texas

Daniel Reese for KUT News

After the brutal drought of 2011, welcome rains this year put minds at ease in many parts of Texas. But any respite may be short-lived.

The best hope Texas had for a full recovery from its long drought was a wet upcoming winter. But recent weather models show that’s growing less and less likely. The reason? The El Niño weather pattern meteorologists expected is not forming in the Atlantic.

State Climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon tell StateImpact Texas the bad news doesn’t end there.

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Farming
4:26 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Exporting Texas Tastes to China

http://flic.kr/p/aUAH9z

This year’s timely rains are bringing Texas a fruitful recovery of its pecan industry. So much so, Texas is expecting a pecan yield two times bigger than last year’s. Agricultural officials expect Texas to produce 65 million pounds of nuts!

Under usual economic circumstances, a greater supply would mean a lower cost. But this will not be the case this holiday season. The nut indigenous to Texas land and pivotal to Thanksgiving Day feasts has a new market—China. In fact, last year the U.S. exported roughly 80 million pounds of pecans to China. The increase of international interest in the pecan is expected to keep demand high, and thus retail prices up for the American consumer.

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Texas
7:35 am
Fri October 19, 2012

'Dire' State of Central Texas Lakes Costing Area Millions

The "Sometimes Islands" of Lake Travis have become permanent fixtures on the lake over the past few years.
flickr.com/daleremote

State lawmakers met Wednesday to discuss the Texas drought and how extremely low Central Texas lake levels are hurting the economy. 

The Texas House Committee on Culture, Recreation, & Tourism heard testimony from Travis County Commissioner Karen Huber and the Central Texas Water Coalition. Both Commissioner Huber and the Coalition are seeking assistance from the state for the populations living and working around the lakes. They told lawmakers that funding and assistance is needed to support the impacted communities.

Huber recounted stories she's heard from several Lake Travis business owners:

"One gas station owner says he has shut 3 of his 4 gas stations. Another business owner who owns several business on the lake says he is raiding his kids' college funds for two years. My partners and I have cashed in every IRA we have tucked away. And we are running out of options."

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AM Update: 9/14/12
8:43 am
Fri September 14, 2012

AM Update: Rainfall Totals, Health & Mosquito Spraying, Diez y Seis Events

Rain chances for Central Texas will continue through tonight and this weekend.
Caleb Miller for KUT News

Good morning! Grab your galoshes and umbrella, it's raining! After a dry couple of weeks, that's our top story in today's AM Update:

Rain and More Rain

The rain will continue to fall across Central Texas this morning. Most of the showers are expected to be light to moderate but downpours are possible.

Leander has received more than 7.6 inches in the past 24 hours. Marble Falls has received more than 5 inches and Dripping Springs seen more than 2 inches.

Our rain chances will stay at about 70 percent throughout the day and then fall to about 40 percent overnight.

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Environment
12:39 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Travis County Extends Burn Ban

Outdoor burning is prohibited in unincorporated areas of Travis County.
flickr.com/vabachi

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously this morning to extend the burn ban into October. The county is still in a moderate drought and we’ve had several days of record breaking temperatures and low relative humidity.

Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the burn ban appears to be working. 

“I have spoken with several of the fire chiefs out west this morning where the county is the driest, and they are reporting very little activity other than a few runs for people who are burning when they should not have been, and between the fire departments and the sheriff’s office, they have taken care of those," Lee says.

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Environment
2:41 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

During Drought, Austin Cleans Streets With Drinkable Water

Jillian Schantz Patrick for KUT News

When it is still dark outside you can hear the city’s sweeping and flushing trucks cleaning the downtown streets from gum, trash or even urine that lingers on the streets from the night before. Often you can hear water flushing on the streets and you wonder: Isn’t there a water restriction?

Recent rains might make you think otherwise, but the city of Austin is still in "moderate drought." That's why we are currently under Stage I watering restrictions. But When it comes to cleaning the streets of downtown Austin, the rules do not apply to the city itself, says Jill Mayfield, spokesperson from the Austin Water Utility Department.

“There is an exemption for water that’s used to protect health, safety or welfare for the public," Mayfield explained. "One example is street cleaning. We have so much pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic, that it is important to keep our streets clean and healthy."

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Environment
4:10 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Hot, Dry Weather = Burn Bans, Severe Drought Conditions

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows portions of Central Texas have moved from moderate to severe drought.

Recent hot and dry weather has prompted several Central Texas counties to issue burn bans.

Travis, Williamson, Hays and Burnet Counties are all prohibiting outdoor burning.

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The Two-Way
3:47 pm
Wed August 8, 2012

July Warmest Month on Record For U.S., But Not For Texas

Only one color was needed to show where July ranks in terms of hottest months on record.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 12:14 pm

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Environment
3:26 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Drought Map Shows No Significant Changes

This week's drought conditions (R) remain steady compared to the previous week.
U.S. Drought Monitor

As far as the Texas drought goes, no news might be good news.

After steadily improving for months, the U.S. Drought Monitor map shows statewide drought conditions have reached a plateau.

Heavy rains two weeks ago brought more than 10 percent of the state out of any drought. That number remains steady.

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Texas
10:59 am
Fri July 20, 2012

How the Midwest Drought is Affecting Texas Farmers

Texas corn suffered from drought in 2011, but conditions have eased somewhat in 2012.
Robert Burns for Texas AgriLife Extension Service

While Texas has partially recovered from drought conditions thanks to heavy rain, the Midwest is going through one its worst drought years in decades. And conditions may impact some  – but not all  – Texas farmers’ pocketbooks.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the nation is going through the worst agricultural drought since 1988. For corn and soybean growers it’s been especially harmful, since more than three-quarters of those crops are considered to be in a drought area. But that could actually prove to be beneficial for Texas.

“With the Midwest suffering from drought, that’s driving prices up," says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. "So that means the market price for the corn, for many of the farmers in Texas and our area, is going to be very good."

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Weather
1:36 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Drought Conditions Improve Across Central Texas

The drought conditions have improved across Central and Eastern Texas from the July 10 map (left) to the July 17 map (right).
U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent rain has lifted much of the Austin area from “severe” to “moderate” drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows an improvement across almost all of Central Texas. Williamson County went from extreme drought down to severe. And areas around Bastrop have improved to abnormally dry.

In fact, 12 percent of the state – much of Eastern Texas – is now classified as completely out of drought conditions.

Victor Murphy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says it will still be a while before all of Texas sees long-term drought recovery.

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Environment
1:03 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Recent Rain Barely Boosts Lake Levels

Lake Travis, photographed in June 2012. The lake is less than half full.
LCRA

Parts of North Austin and Round Rock received more than four inches of rain in last night’s storm. But Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan are only up a couple of inches. That’s because most of the rain fell downstream of the watershed.

Bob Rose is the chief meteorologist with the Lower Colorado River Authority. He says the recent rain has been great, but is no drought-buster.

“To really start re-filling the lakes, we kind of need an overall change in the whole weather pattern," Rose says. "Where we start getting more rain more frequently and the rain falls all across the area, including the Hill Country."

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Weather
1:35 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Hoping for a Hurricane? Central Texas Needs Rain

Parts of Central Texas are now back in "extreme drought."
U.S. Drought Monitor

The new U.S. Drought Monitor map shows Central Texas is getting drier. In just a little over a month, parts of Travis and Williamson Counties have moved from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.”

It’s been more than six weeks since the Austin area's seen a good rain.

"For the period from May 16 to July 5, a period of almost 7 weeks, the Austin area has seen only 0.44 of an inch," Victor Murphy, National Weather Service Regional Climate Service program manager, writes via email. "This is the driest such period on record there in Austin in over 100 years (since 1911).  Normal for this period should be about six inches.  Thus, Austin has received less than 10 percent of normal rainfall during what should be one of the wettest time of the year." 

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Weather
1:52 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Central Texas in 'Significant' Short-Term Drought

The map on the left shows drought conditions on June 12, 2012. The map on the right (released today) shows drought conditions on June 19, 2012.
U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new map today – and the news is mixed.

For the first time since March of last year, no part of Texas is under the worst stage of drought. But parts of Central Texas are actually drier than they’ve been in the last few months.

The map shows parts of Travis, Williamson, and Milam counties have been elevated from moderate to severe drought.

That’s because June, which is usually the state’s wettest month, has been abnormally dry. In fact, the last five weeks have been the second driest late May to mid-June on record.

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