Persistent local drought could end within a year

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The ongoing drought that has gripped Central Texas for four years could come to an end within a year.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the elevation of the water level on Lake Travis stands at 627.73 feet – nearly 43 feet below the average level for the month of March.

But there may be some relief on the way.

On a basic level, El Niño is a cycle of warmer-than-normal ocean waters near the Equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean. In Texas, El Niño winters usually mean wetter-than-average weather.

We took a deeper look into the level of Lake Travis before – and after – El Niño winters, and the numbers are staggering.

Over the past 30 years (which includes the last seven El Niño events), Lake Travis has risen an average of nearly 17 feet during an El Niño winter from October to March.

The biggest lake rise came during the 2009/2010 El Niño winter, when the lake rose 51.7 feet.

Last year, NOAA forecast an El Niño, but it never materialized. The average frequency of an El Niño event is five years. The last event occurred in 2009, so Central Texas is exactly due for the pattern that could bring large amounts of welcome rain. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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