Central Texas needs lots of rain to offset big-time drought, experts say

Tuesday’s rain is expected to be just a drop in the bucket when it comes to a drought that just won’t quit.

FOX 7 meteorologist Zack Shields says more than half of Texas is under drought conditions right now.

"The worst of it is happening here locally, south and west of Austin, like in Hays, Blanco, Gillespie Counties. That's extreme, exceptional drought," said Shields.

So why the lack of rain?

"It’s been La Nina. We've had the La Nina weather pattern in place for the last three years. That doesn't happen very often," said Shields.

Right now, Lake Travis is at just over 639 feet. That’s 28 feet below average for January, and only 46% full. As those levels continue to drop, marinas have been forced to shuffle around their boats and docks.

"For us, it's a lot of work. We have to really push out," said Frank Lee, facility manager for Paradise Cove Marina on Rocky Ridge. "We sometimes have to push out 20 or 30 feet just for a two-foot drop."

Paradise Cove has had to shut down their boat launch ramp, as have many public ramps on Lake Travis. One bright spot: their boat rental business is booming.

"People want to go out on the lake, and you can't launch your boat, you rent a boat," said Lee.

Those low levels also mean tighter water restrictions.

"We can only retain our water in our reservoirs if we all pitch in as residents in Austin," said Kevin Kluge, manager of the Water Conservation Division with Austin Water.

The City of Austin remains in Stage One drought restrictions, but Kluge says that could change.

"By June or July, if the weather remains dry or extremely dry up in our watershed, yes, we could go into stage two of the drought," said Kluge.

With the long-term outlook looking rather dry, relief may be hard to come by.

"We need these rain events to come in every three or four days before we start putting a decent dent in the drought," said Shields.

The Lower Colorado River Authority keeps track of current lake levels for Lakes Travis and Buchanan River Operations Report, as well as projections for the next six months.