Lake levels low around South Central Texas after year of drought

San Antonio is roughly 11 inches below average for yearly rainfall

A photo taken at Medina Lake from KSAT Connect user, Jenny. (Image by Jenny/KSAT Connect)

It’s been a fairly dry year around San Antonio, with only 19.90 inches of rain recorded at San Antonio International Airport since January 1, 2020. This is nearly 11 inches below average for the Alamo City.

Del Rio is in need of rainfall, too. With only 11.42 inches of rainfall so far this year, the border town is experiencing a rainfall deficit of more than 7.5 inches.

It's been a fairly dry year for San Antonio, Del Rio, and Laredo. (Totals are as of Dec. 9.) (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Signs of drought in areas around Texas range from no drought at all in Houston, to exceptional in West Texas and extreme to severe in the San Antonio area.

Extreme Drought is present all across South Central Texas. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

So how does this impact our Texas lakes? The graph below shows the lake levels for some of the larger lakes in our area.

Area Lakes are falling, with Medina Lake dropping dramatically. (Data is up to date through Dec. 9.) (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Medina Lake

Medina Lake over the past 25 years. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Even though Medina Lake is only 43% full, it is notorious for fluctuations. After the devastating 2011 drought, Medina Lake dried up almost completely through 2015, leaving people skeptical if the lake would ever fill up again.

Meteorologist Justin Horne took a trip out to Medina Lake in 2014 to show the drastically low water levels which at times was only 3% full.

It wasn’t until heavy rainfall in May of 2016 that the Medina Lake level finally recovered. At the time, the Medina Lake Spillway overtopped as heavy rains fell across South Texas.

“Medina Lake has a small watershed and is used for agriculture, making it more susceptible to large fluctuations,” said Horne. “History has shown that all it takes is one or two big rain events in the right spot to fill it back up.”


About the Authors:

Sarah Spivey is a San Antonio native who grew up watching KSAT. She has been a proud member of the KSAT Weather Authority Team since 2017. Sarah is a Clark High School and Texas A&M University graduate. She previously worked at KETN News. When Sarah is not busy forecasting, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and cat, and playing music.

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.