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Rain possible next week in San Antonio, Aquifer 30 feet below average

FIve day outlook from NWS.png
NWS
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FIve day outlook from NWS

Near record highs are possible this weekend, but the National Weather Service reports a bit of rain and cool down is possible next week.

Forecasters said a subtropical ridge that has kept South Texas baking in the sun is expected to weaken and push to the southwest on Monday as a cold front from the Upper Great Lakes slides in.

Temperatures should remain in the 90s all next week, which offers relief from the triple digit scorching of recent weeks.

As the cold front moves through, a low pressure system off the coast of Louisiana is expected to move west over North Texas, triggering some showers along and east of I-35.

Some spots closer to the Texas coast could receive around two inches. Up to half an inch is possible closer to I-35.

Many San Antonians are anxious for rain as yards brown and water bills rise. The city is 11 inches below normal rainfall amounts since the start of the year. Del Rio is 6 inches below for the year. Austin is about 4 inches below normal since January.

The U.S. Drought Monitor now places south and west Bexar County in "Exceptional" — its worst drought category. Many counties to the west and northwest of Bexar are in the same category.

The San Antonio Water System reduced pumping from the Edwards Aquifer as directed by the Edwards Aquifer Authority, but has turned to other water sources to spare residents so far from Stage 3 water restrictions.

That would allow for yards to be watered by automatic sprinkler only every other week based on street address.

San Antonians remain under Stage 2 restrictions, which allow for once a week watering under the same rotating address system.

New Braunfels and Castroville are now following Stage 3 restrictions.

The aquifer authority last week declared Stage 2 restrictions for pumpers from the Uvalde Pool of the aquifer, including the City of Uvalde and farmers and ranchers. Pumpers there were required to cut back 5%.

Paul Bertetti, the senior director for aquifer science research and modeling, said Friday the aquifer's 10-day average was at 635 feet, or about 5 feet above where Stage Four restrictions could be triggered on pumpers if it stays there for 10 days.

At 635 feet, the aquifer is 30 feet below its historical average for this time of the year at 665 feet.

Bertetti said the aquifer has been dropping about half-a-foot-day, but the water restrictions on pumpers has slowed its previous descent.

A long range drought is looking more and more likely. The NWS Climate Prediction Center reports the outlook for July through September leans toward above normal temperatures with a continued "murky signal" in terms of precipitation. But it will likely take a tropical system to see meaningful relief this summer and fall.

"La Nina conditions remain in place, and chances are near 60% for a third straight winter of La Nina. Confidence continues to increase in this potential, but it is not yet locked in stone and there is a 30-40% chance neutral conditions could return. However it is relatively certain that we wont see El Nino conditions later this year. These signs point towards the potential for drought to stick around into this fall and potentially winter," the prediction center reported.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian