Austin's winters can be a real mixed bag. Some years we get ice, freezing temps, even a bit of snow! Other years it just is cold and damp with a lot of rain. This year has been dry, medium cold, with lots of grey skies but no real wintery-days. We haven't had a really rainy winter in several years, which is really a shame because we are still officially in a drought. This year there has been a bit of rain but not enough to come anywhere close to ending the drought.
Lake Travis, which is actually part of the Lower Colorado river, is a good size resevoir, with a dam and everything. It's not as large and impressive as the Hoover Dam, but the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) controls when and how much water is released from the reservoir to flow downstream to other parts of Texas south of here. The water level in the lake is significantly below normal (something like 16' low) so there just isn't that much water available to release.
I never realized it but evidently there are rice farmers south of Austin, somewhere along the course of the river. Somehow I would never have thought of Texas as a good place to grow rice. If anything I would have thought that rice was grown in wet, kind of swampy, places with lots of rain. Shows you what I know! Nevertheless, Texas is a rice state! How about that? The water for the rice farms comes from the waters released from the reservoir at Lake Travis. Well evidently, the LCRA is not going to release water any time soon They can't, I guess. The lake is already so low that this huge reservoir has islands!! Really! It's very sad looking.
Anyway, if they don't release water for the rice farmers, it will be a very poor year for rice (among other things).
I don't know much about climate change, or global warming, or water conservation other than what you hear on the news and such. But with days in the upper 70s, not much precipitation (neither rain nor snow) while it is still the middle of February (!) even I have to admit that we need rain a lot more than we need more warm sunny days! I think this is the third or fourth time I written about drought but it sure doesn't seem to be getting much better.
The Austin area is the Eastern edge of the Texas Hill Country. It's supposed to be green, with lots of farms with produce and/or livestock. If it doesn't start to rain occasionally and if the reservoir doesn't fill up pretty soon, our pretty, green, hilly part the State will begin to look like West Texas with everything brown, dry, windblown, and bare just like an old cowboy movie! And that would NOT be good!