El Nino is here! Could the drought be ending?

I trust everyone had an enjoyable holiday season. I have what I hope is some good news to report.

We are on a favorable trend based on the Drought.gov monitoring for Bertram, TX. It appears that we will be out of drought status within the next few weeks. This trend is likely to continue as we have moved into an El Nino pattern in the Tropical Pacific Ocean. This pattern tends to bring more moisture and cooler temperatures to the Southern US during the winter. It has no consistent impact during the summer months. For more information on the El Nino/La Nina patterns follow this Climate.gov link.

The last time we went through an El Nino phase in Whitewater Springs was 2016. The phase was neutral in 2015, 2017, and 2018. During that period we had large surpluses of rain in 2015, 2016 and 2018. 2017 was an average year for rainfall.

Will the pattern repeat? We’ll see. The first half of 2023 was still in the La Nina phase. We skipped the Neutral phase and went right into El Nino last fall. We had a deficit of rainfall in 2023, so that part of the pattern hasn’t repeated yet. We are off to a banner start in 2024 with 3″ of rain so far and more to come. This will likely double our normal January rainfall of 1.56″. Of course, summer usually determines what type of year we’ll have precipitation-wise.

You can see our year-to-date rainfall totals and historical information on the WSWSC.org site. It is from local rain gauges, so it is more accurate than NWS precipitation reported at airports miles away. The information is updated monthly.

Even though we may be coming out of the drought in Central Texas, concerns about water availability persist. Rapid development is stressing the local aquifers. The most important thing you can do to reduce water usage is limit irrigation. The area we live in has many beautiful drought resistant plants. Try to mimic the surrounding landscape and your watering needs should be negligible. If you can afford to install rainwater collection, then by all means do so. You’ll need approval from the ACC to install a tank, but they are reasonable in their requirements. If you wish to use rainwater collection for household use, you’ll also need to have PGMS inspect it for appropriate plumbing connections and disinfection. If you are just using the water for irrigation no inspection is required.

Should you have any questions about any of these please do not hesitate to contact team@wswsc.org.