What to know about summer drought conditions in Austin, TX

The Austin skyline at sunset

Austin’s current drought conditions aren’t as bad as they were in 2011, but they are worsening. | Photo by @jtype

Table of Contents

Abnormally dry. Moderate. Severe. Extreme. Depending on where you live in Travis County, these are the terms used to describe the drought conditions in your area.

When you see a string of 100º days in the forecast like this one, it can be alarming. Here’s what to know about Austin’s drought status and what it means for summer.

What’s causing this drought?

The abnormal climate right now is in part caused by the La Niña phenomenon, a weather event that results in hotter, drier conditions in Texas. The cycle, which occurs every three to five years, is expected to continue through August.

How is the drought progressing?

The Central Texas drought is worsening.

Three months ago, 65% of the land surrounding Austin and San Antonio was in either “moderate” or “severe” drought conditions. As of May 31 (the latest date of available data), 56% of Central Texas was classified as “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.

A graphic of Austin drought conditions

Drought conditions have worsened in recent months. | Screenshot via the U.S. Drought Monitor

How does this compare to historic droughts?

In 2011, just 15 inches of rain fell all year and wildfires scorched 34,000 acres in Bastrop County. That year, Austin logged 90 days of triple-digit temperatures. That was the last time a 100º day was recorded in May — until this year.

However, the current percentage of Texas land in drought conditions is lower than the amount at the same time in 2011. Back then, about 50% of Texas was under “exceptional” drought, compared to 18% now.

Here’s what you can do:

❤️ Take care of yourself. Monitor for signs of heat exhaustion and keep a close eye on children + pets.

⚡️ Reduce energy. Heat strains the electrical grid: Here’s how to save energy this summer.

🧯 Practice fire safety. Properly dispose of matches + cigarettes, and take care burning certain items.

🚰 Reduce water use. Austin began new water restrictions on irrigation this week, moving the city into Stage 1 of its Drought Contingency Plan. See what that means for your property.

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