Austin's wettest month off to dry start

AUSTIN -- What a Thursday morning it was. The sun in the sky...accompanied by some nice-looking clouds...and cool temperatures.

However, it was also a dry start to the May. KVUE Meteorologist Albert Ramon is hopeful that will change soon.

Although the first few days of this month look to be dry, long-range forecast models indicate above-average rainfall, so I think this year, this May - is gonna be wet, he said.

Albert elaborated on this. May is a very important month. This is the month where we start to add up the rainfall when it comes to water resources, when it comes to ranchers and farmers, when it comes to your yard. So if this month is dry, that's gonna be a precursor to the heat that we may have in the summer months. Dry Mays usually equal hot summers, so if it's a wet May, maybe it's an average to below-average summer, heatwise.

A dry May is the last thing Shoal Creek needs. The creek is a pretty good indicator of our drought. When we get the heavy rains, the creek tends to rage. Well, it's been a long time since we've seen this creek rage.

It's not just the creeks. Some of the trees around town continue to show signs of drought stress. Michael Embesi is an arborist with Austin, and he says to look for signs like branches missing leaves - and trunks losing bark.

I believe they have not gotten worse from a tree perspective. We lost many trees from the drought in 2011, and when trees decline, they decline very slowly - meaning that they don't die overnight - they acclimate to their environment, he said.

While Embesi believes the trees haven't gotten terribly worse - that doesn't mean he isn't concerned - especially if we don't get more rain soon. He said any rain is better than none.

Even cloudy days help, because in a sense, it helps temper the temperatures; it helps reduce the amount of evaporation, and so even those days really assist. It's really those long, bright, hot days - that cumulatively really make a significant impact on our native vegetation, he explained.

At Austin Water, Drema Gross, water conservation division manager, spoke about the number of tickets for violating water restrictions. Since October of our fiscal year, when our year starts, we've written 218 citations. That's from 1700 warnings, she said.

She adds that compliance this year has been better, a good thing since they're not likely to lift any time soon.

Embesi encourages people in the Austin area to watch their trees for signs of drought stress. For more information on dealing with stressed trees, click here.


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