11:40 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Drought Hurts Some Insects and Helps Others

Photo by Prashant Maxsteel http://www.flickr.com/photos/prashantmaxsteel/

The drought presents both good and bad news for Austinites struggling with insect and pest populations. Ants and mosquitos are in decline right now, while spider mites and chinch bugs are thriving.  

Texas Agri-Life entomologist Wizzie Brown says that hot dry conditions are good for some insect populations and bad for others. She says the number of fire ants at ground level and mosquito populations drop during droughts.

Read more
News Brief
6:10 am
Tue July 5, 2011

Top Morning Stories July 05, 2011

Thanks to the drought Lake Travis is 23 feet below the historic average for July, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Photo by KUT News.

Lake Levels Dropping

The drought has been dropping lake levels in Central Texas.  The Lower Colorado River Authority says the water level at Lake Travis is at about 646 feet. That’s 23 feet below its historic average for July. Lake Buchanan is about 12 feet below its historic average for this month. The rain outlook doesn’t look too promising, although there is a slight chance for rain this weekend. 

Read more
3:05 pm
Fri July 1, 2011

Drought predicted to worsen

Lake Travis' diminishing shoreline. Lake Travis is a popular recreational water source for swimmers, boaters and water sports of all kinds.
KUT News

Fireworks displays have been banned, lakes drying up and crops scorched. It's safe to say the drought in Central Texas is bad. And it's not over yet.

Read more
5:14 pm
Tue June 28, 2011

Feds Declare 213 Texas Counties as Drought Disaster Zones

Drought stunted wheat in Texas
Photo by agrilifetoday http://www.flickr.com/photos/agrilifetoday/

Calling it “one of the worst droughts in more than a century”, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has named 213 of Texas’ 254 counties as primary natural disaster areas. The measure allows farmers and ranchers to apply for federal disaster aid. The remaining 41 counties also qualify for assistance because they are contiguous.

Read more
12:33 pm
Wed June 22, 2011

Rain Offers Little Relief for Drought

Graphic courtesy of the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Central Texas got some temporary relief from the ongoing drought.  Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose says, while one to over two inches of rain fell in many areas, we would need a lot more rainy days to break the drought.

Read more
1:46 pm
Mon June 20, 2011

LCRA Warns of Lake Hazards, Urges Conservation

The Lake Travis level is 23 feet below the monthly average of 461 feet.
Photo courtesy of LCRA.

Correction for Clarification: The Lower Colorado River Authority requests that customers impose mandatory water restrictions when the combines lake storage drop below 900,000 acre-feet of water, but does not curtail.

Read more
1:35 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

Exceptional Drought Spreads, Llano River Near Dry

A picture of the Llano River Bridge during its last drought in 2008.
Photo by kjoyner666 http://www.flickr.com/photos/delusionary/

The city’s and county’s move to ban all fireworks, public and private, for the Fourth of July weekend seem like a bummer to some people, but when you examine at the local drought conditions, it’s hard to blame them.  The US Drought Monitor Map shows the entire region is in “exceptional” drought, which is the worst category they have.

Read more
12:32 pm
Fri June 17, 2011

UT Fountains To Be Turned Off Monday

Photo by jdeeringdavis http://www.flickr.com/photos/hayesandjenn/

Water fountains at the University of Texas at Austin will go dry on Monday as UT begins implementing voluntary Stage 2 water conservation measures. UT expects doing this will save more than 300,000 gallons each month on the 40 acres.

Read more
3:07 pm
Tue June 14, 2011

County Judge Declares "Local Disaster," Bans Fireworks

Photo by SJ photography's photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/sjliew/

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe led commissioners today to declare a state of local emergency and ban the sale of fireworks for 60 hours. Biscoe is requesting that Governor Perry extend the fireworks ban through June and over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The initial declaration presented by Judge Biscoe only granted him the authority to proclaim a "local disaster" for seven days. Biscoe asked Travis County Commissioners Court to extend the declaration indefinitely. They were approved the measure today after lunch, but included a provision that would allow Biscoe to lift the ban in the case of heavy rain.

Read more
4:07 pm
Tue May 24, 2011

Groundwater Bill Closer To Governor's Desk

A groundwater bill making its way out of the Texas Legislature could be used in the future to make some water rights points in court.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

The groundwater bill is closer to becoming a law. The Texas House passed SB 332, which states that a property owner also owns the groundwater beneath their land. The bill goes back to the Senate for a final vote before it goes to Governor Rick Perry.

Read more
News Brief
5:51 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Top Morning Stories May 19, 2011

The accused Fort Hood shooter’s defense team is scheduled to meet with Fort Hood’s new commander Thursday.
Sketch courtesy of Pat Lopez.

Charged Fort Hood Shooter's Defense Meeting with Commander

Major Nidal Hasan's defense counsel is scheduled to meet with Fort Hood's commander today.  Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell will decide whether Hasan will be court martialed and whether he will face the death penalty. Hasan's lead attorney, John Galligan, told the Associated Press he'll urge Campbell not to seek the death penalty because those cases are more costly and time consuming. 

Read more
10:46 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Austin's Reaction Online To Storm Drenching

Thunder rumbled and heavy rains fell in Austin today.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News
4:46 pm
Wed May 11, 2011

Farmers Sound Alarm On Drought Disaster

Photo by Whatknot http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatknot/

Historically dry conditions have brought the the Texas agriculture industry to its knees, according to the Texas Farm Bureau's board of directors. The board met for its quarterly meeting in Waco today and released this statement.

Read more
4:02 pm
Fri May 6, 2011

Texas Drought: Could It Get Any Worse?

This map shows more of Texas in drought than any other time since it was introduced by the US Drought Monitor in January 2000.
Image courtesy US Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor started using the above map in 2000 to visually represent drought conditions. The newest map, released May 5, shows more land than ever before is in "exceptional drought," the most intense drought category used by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Associated Press talked to National Weather Service Meteorologist Victor Murphy who said the same is true of the amount of land in "extreme drought", the second most severe category.

Read more
11:27 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Burn Ban Ordered For Central Texas Scout Properties

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/akahodag/

As the Texas Forest Service fights ten major wildfires covering more than half-a-million acres, the Central Texas Boy Scouts have ordered a burn ban at all seven of its camping properties. Those are Lost Pines Boy Scout Camp and Cub World near Bastrop, Griffith League Scout Ranch near Bastrop, Camp Green Dickson near Gonzales, Camp Alma McHenry near Giddings, Roy D. Rivers Wilderness Camp near Smithville and Wolf Mountain Scout Ranch near Llano.

Read more
11:12 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Extreme Fire Conditions Forecast Today Across Texas

A U.S. Dept. of Agriculture plane flies over firefighting operations in Scurry County, Texas on April 27. Extreme fire conditions are forecast across much of the state today.
Photo by DVIDSHUB http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/

Ten major wildfires are still burning across Texas today, an area that spans 562,004 acres. No new fires were reported on Thursday, but extreme fire conditions are predicted across West Texas today, with red flag warnings in effect. Some two-million acres have already been scorched in Texas since January 1.

One bit of news from the Texas Forest Service. It says the Possum Kingdom wildfire, which burned more than 126,000 acres, has been completely contained.

Read more
3:19 pm
Thu April 28, 2011

Preventing Fires Along The Greenbelt

Austin fire investigators say a cigarette is to blame for the apartment fire at the The Woods located just across the street from the eastern portion of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News

Mike May says he loves living right off the Barton Creek Greenbelt. But he knows the apartment complex he is in is at risk during high fire season. So do managers. After burnt coals were dumped in the dog park, the managers started warning tenants about fire dangers.

“They put signs on the fences and things like that when things are going on and they actually just come around and put it on your particular door,” May said.

Read more
2:00 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Austin Bans Grilling And Smoking Cigarettes In Local Parks

The city doesn't want you doing any of this in local parks because of extremely dry conditions.
Photo by ~Dezz~ http://www.flickr.com/photos/residae/

The current extreme drought has parched local parks so badly that the city is moving to ban grilling and cigarette smoking on all 16,000 acres of land in the Parks and Recreation system. That includes parks, playgrounds, city cemeteries, golf courses, and pretty much anything else you can find on this list.

Read more
1:30 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Wimberley Fire May Have Been Caused By Outdoor Grill

Images of the fire taken by YNN's Russell Wilde.

In an area that is currently facing an extreme drought, "wildfire" is one of the last words you want to hear when you wake up on Friday morning. But that's exactly what happened today in Wimberley, a small town with a vibrant artistic community that is less than an hour's drive from Austin.

Read more
4:22 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Restaurant Hosts Fundraiser For Oak Hill Wildfire Victims

Jack Allen's Kitchen is hosting a fundraiser for Oak Hill residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by fire on Sunday.
Photo by Kenny Richter. Used with permission

People who lost property in a wildfire in the southwest Austin neighborhood of Oak Hill will get some help this weekend from Jack Allen's Kitchen. The restaurant is hosting a $20 appetizer buffet from 2 pm to 4 pm Saturday with all proceeds going to wildfire victims.

"It's just kind of a show of support, and a way for everyone to get together and mend a little bit," Jack Allen's Kitchen co-owner Tom Kamm told KUT News.

Read more