Lake Travis: Holding Steady after a Wet Spring and Summer

lake travis water level

Now that Lake Travis has been holding steady for a couple of months at a nearly full depth, let’s put into perspective the massive shift the lake has seen this year, preceded by years of near historic drought levels.

Even though August is typically one of the driest months for Central Texas, heavy rains resulted in an increase in lake levels, with both Lake Travis and Buchanan nearly full and well above their average monthly elevations. July, however, was drier than normal, with less than a third of the historical average of inflow.

What made the major difference in Lake Travis was the wet spring followed by the May/June flooding.

The Highland Lakes June 2016 inflows were more than three times higher than the monthly average. The inflows for the month totaled 563,696 acre-feet, which is more than the Highland Lakes received in the entire years of 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. 2015 was somewhat better for rainfall, and June inflows only were the equivalent of about 75 percent of that timeframe.

For 2016 through the end of June, the Highland Lakes had received a total of 1.27 million acre-feet of water inflows, just above the yearly average of 1.21 million acre-feet.

What helped the basins fill so rapidly is that the June rains followed a notably wet spring that led to above-average inflows in March, April, and May.

The LCRA operated the Highland Lakes and the dams to manage the floodwaters that arrived during the May-June flooding. Lake Travis temporarily held extra water, serving its purpose as a designated flood pool, until the water could be released downstream safely.

Lake Travis is hovering over 681 feet as of the end of August 2016. Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan are jointly about 97 percent full.