Stormy Weather: 2016

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Central Texas is soaked. For almost two weeks, a stationary low pressure system pumped huge amounts of moisture into the area. The Austin airport reported 15.80″ of rainfall last month, making for the wettest May on record. Downtown Austin had no major flooding, but many homes were affected both downstream and upstream from the city.

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An Early Spring

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After a very mild winter, we’re having an early spring in Austin. Daytime highs have already reached over 80°, but nights are still cool. El Niño produced lots of rain last fall, but so far this year we’ve had very little moisture. Forecasters are hopeful that April and May will be wetter.

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Bat Watching

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Bat watching is one of Austin’s most unusual and most popular attractions. An estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats—the world’s largest urban bat colony—live in the crevices underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. Around sunset, the bats fly out en masse in search of food and return to the bridge before sunrise. The colony stays here from March through November and migrates to Mexico for the winter.

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Clean Lady Bird Lake

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At March’s It’s My Park Day, I learned that non-profit Keep Austin Beautiful organizes periodic large-scale cleanups called Clean Lady Bird Lake. So this month I volunteered to pick up trash at Shoal Beach Metropolitan Park, where I had also worked in March. My motivation was two-fold: I use this section of the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail almost every day, and I knew that this area was underwater during the Memorial Day Flood.

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TS Bill

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Last week Tropical Storm Bill formed in the Gulf of Mexico and slowly made its way through our state. The center of the storm went east of Austin, so we were grateful to be spared the worst of the wind and rain. Since our ground was still soaked from last month’s Memorial Day flood, some low-lying areas experienced flooding again. Local lake levels rose significantly, and our landscape became a healthy green again.

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