Yesterday, the water level of Lake Travis rose above 681 feet above mean sea level (msl) for the first time since the fall of 2007, after dropping below 630 feet msl in late September of last year. The El Nino weather pattern is what normally brings Texas out of its recurring historical droughts, and the El Nino of the last 6 months was no exception, raising the level of Lake Travis over 51 feet since its lowest water level during the current drought.
The full pool of the lake, and the end of the drought, is great news and certainly cause for celebration in the Texas Hill Country. Last summer, the low lake level closed most, if not all, of the lake’s public boat ramps. This had a negative financial impact on businesses along the lake, including marinas, waterfront restaurants, music venues, hotels, and tourist rental properties. Equally bad, “sometimes islands” appeared on the lake, causing accidents and injuries, especially among boaters unfamiliar with the lake. And, residents across the hill country, dealt with the watering restrictions common in times of drought.
This year will be much different. Currently, the lake level is 10 feet above what the level would normally be during a typical March. Businesses along all of the Highland Lakes, including Lake Travis, will no doubt thrive this year, but, then again, this is Texas, the land of feast or famine. Texans in the hill country have learned how to adapt to fast changing weather and climate over the years. One year’s prosperity might bring something quite different the next year. We’ve seen it all before, and, many times.
But, given the current conditions, it is time to celebrate the “feast” of a full lake and the end of the current drought. I will enjoy it while I can, because Texas weather history tells me, it won’t last forever.