By Jerry Needham - Express-News
An area centered over Hays County and reaching to Austin and New Braunfels was classified by federal weather-watchers Thursday as in “exceptional” drought — the worst category.
With a large part of South-Central Texas in extreme drought — the next-to-worst category — and little prospect for significant rainfall, forecasters say they expect to see an expansion of the areas hit with the exceptional label.
And the outlook for rain?
“Dry,” she was quick to reply. “Rain? What is that? We are heading into the driest time of year, and it doesn't help that we're well below half of normal.”
The region joins an area in the western Carolinas and northern Georgia as the only ones suffering in the worst category of drought.
Lake and river levels around Austin and New Braunfels are really low, but San Antonio's primary source of water — the Edwards Aquifer — still hasn't dropped to levels requiring user restrictions.
“Canyon Lake is the lowest it's ever been,” said Bill West, general manager of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority.
The lake, which was filled in the mid-1960s and whose normal level is 909 feet above sea level, stood Thursday at 898.5 feet or 78.8 percent of normal.
“The issue is we've been dry for so long that we know that once farmers start pre-irrigating their lands, that decline in aquifer levels is going to increase,” said Roland Ruiz, spokesman for the Edwards Aquifer Authority.
“However, if we do get rain, it's not going to be very much at all,” she added.