drought

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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Texas
4:41 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Texas Drought: Better But Not Over

The drought map from this time last year (left) and the map released today (right) shows Texas with much less drought.
Image courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor

The worst drought in Texas history isn’t over but it’s not as bad – at least for now.

Most of Central Texas is classified as “abnormally dry.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new drought map today and it shows most of the area is under the least severe stage of drought. The western part of Travis County and much of the hill country is a little bit drier – considered in “moderate” drought.

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AM Update
8:39 am
Thu April 26, 2012

AM Update: Lakes Travis & Buchanan Low, Ron Paul Speaks at UT, Perry Endorses Romney

Lake Travis remains low due to dry conditions in April, despite the rains we received in March.
Reshma Kirpalani, KUT News

Lakes Travis and Buchanan Still Low

According to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), lakes Travis and Buchanan remain low –less than half full to be exact.

Texas saw an increase in rainfall last month but that hasn’t been enough to raise water levels in the Highland Lakes. As of April 25, lakes Travis and Buchanan combined are about 48 percent full; that’s much lower compared to last April when the lakes were 71 percent full.

The record-setting drought last year hit the Highland Lakes hard; the lack of rain brought the amount of water flowing into the lakes, called inflows, to a record low. The rains this March caused inflows to surpass the historical average, but with dry weather this month the inflow levels have not hit their normal average.

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Environment
1:57 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Poll: Most Americans Link Climate Change To Unusual Weather Events

In this Aug 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake, in San Angelo, Texas.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 1:25 pm

Most Americans believe that global warming has played a role in a series of unusual weather events during the past year.

A poll released today by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 72 percent of Americas believe global warming played a role in the very warm winter the United States just experienced.

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Environment
5:01 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Kyle Calls Off Water Restrictions

A river over the Edwards Aquifer, which supplies water to Kyle.
Photo courtesy edwardsaquifer.org

The city of Kyle is lifting its water restrictions.

In a letter sent out today, the city says recent rains have "sufficiently recharged" supplies "to allow for the removal of water restrictions beginning immediately. However, even with the removal of mandatory twice a week watering and other restrictions, City officials continue to ask residents to do their part to conserve water." Tips include checking your home and property for leaky pipes and not using a lawn irrigation system that is damaged or is spraying water onto a road or parking lot.

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Environment
2:07 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

How Homegrown Charcoal May Get Your Garden Through A Drought

Scientists say biochar can help dry, sandy soils, like the one pictured here, retain water and nutrients.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 3:07 pm

You've probably heard of compost – that thick chocolate-colored stuff that's an organic gardener's best friend and supplies plants with all kinds of succulent nutrients.

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Watch StateImpact Texas Report on PBS Newshour Tonight

Updated drought maps show the drought has eased across Texas in the past week. But the lingering effects persist.

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Environment
2:37 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Burn Ban Lifted in City Parks

Two people grilling in Zilker Park before the burn ban enacted last April
Photo by ramk13 http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramk13/

The City of Austin has lifted a burn ban for all city parks. You can grill in designated areas, but campfires are only allowed at Emma Long Metropolitan Park.

Victor Ovalle is with Austin Parks and Recreation. He says recent rainfall has improved drought conditions in the area, but s park-goers should still be careful.

“We’re asking the public to be very careful when they’re out," Ovalle said. "There’s still a lot of timber in the area, in our parks, and so we ask them not to leave their fires unattended, to keep a source of water nearby, and before leaving the site, making sure the fire is completely extinguished."

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Austin
8:52 am
Fri March 2, 2012

AM Update: Rice Farmers Lose Water, Break for Texas Independence Day, City Council Decision Rundown

Rice farmers now face a year without water.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for StateImpact Texas

Rice Farmers Lose Water

As of midnight this morning, Texas rice farmers had no water for their crops.

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Austin
11:21 am
Wed February 15, 2012

KUT News Roundup: City Website Reloading, Cattle Ranchers Fight Drought, and Fact Checking Gingrich

If you've missed any of our reporting this week, we've compiled this report.
Photo by KUT News

It's Wednesday, which can only mean one thing: A mid-week round-up of news in Austin and Central Texas from KUT.org, our reporting partner StateImpact Texas, and our friends at KUHF Houston:

New Austin City Website Still Ironing Out Kinks (KUT News)

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Austin
10:46 am
Fri February 10, 2012

KUT News Roundup: Rolling Blackouts for Texas, Drought Examples to Follow, a Mortgage Cash Payout

A big week for news around the city and the state. If you've missed anything, we've compiled this online report.
Photo by KUT News

It's Friday, so here’s an end-of-the-week look at what we’ve been following: News from KUT.org, our reporting partner StateImpact Texas, and our friends at the Texas Tribune:

AISD Teachers Weigh Options with In-District Charter (KUT News):

"A charter school operator from South Texas is moving into East Austin’s Allan Elementary School next school year. It’s the first step in a multiyear strategy that Austin ISD hopes will reverse years of academic setbacks. But for some teachers, it’s a cue to leave their campus.

“I do not want to be a part of what they’re bringing to our community, and it’s still not what I think is best for kids,” Allan Elementary bilingual education teacher Constanza Serna said.

Austin ISD’s first ever in-district charter school program starts next year and will be run by IDEA Public Schools from South Texas. Alejandro Delgado – a graduate of Bowie High in Austin – will be the first vice principal of the renamed IDEA Allan campus.

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Texas
4:49 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Texas Comptroller's Report Assesses Drought's Impact

A report from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says economic effects of the drought could reach into billions of dollars.
Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A 12-page report released Wednesday by the Texas comptroller's office offers a wide-ranging look at the effects of the record drought that is still gripping Texas.

The report, "The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond," contains few new figures for drought losses but offers graphics that depict the breadth of the problem, which hurt crops, threatens electricity production and forced 55 communities to ban outdoor watering.

"Texas is prone to cycles of drought which makes it important for residents, businesses, and state and local governments to manage water use," Comptroller Susan Combs said in a prepared statement. "Every Texan has a stake in water issues the state faces.”

Despite recent rains, 95 percent of the state remains in drought.

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