San Antonio inches away from September rainfall record
After three days of downpours, meteorologists say San Antonio is only 5 inches away from the wettest September on record — and more rain is on the way.
Although the steady rain has brought the J-17 index well up to 659.7 feet, there are still several factors keeping both the San Antonio Water System and the Edwards Aquifer Authority from lifting their Stage 2 restrictions.
But watering lawns is not something San Antonians are worrying about right now.
Over the weekend, San Antonio International Airport received nearly 4 inches of rain. Monday’s showers dropped about an additional half-inch.
So far this month, the metro area has gotten 10.98 inches of rain, making it the fifth-wettest September on record, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Treadway. With two-thirds of the month still to go, San Antonio needs only 5 more inches to make this the wettest September on record, beating the 15.78 inches set in 1946.
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The forecast is increasing the odds of making it.
The weather service is forecasting a 30 percent chance of rain both Tuesday and Thursday. along with a 40 percent chance Wednesday.
“We’re not expecting anything too heavy,” Treadway said. “A quick downpour where someone picks up half an inch or something.”
But Treadway also said meteorologists are monitoring a disturbance in the Caribbean that is projected to be heading into the Gulf of Mexico — and Texas. Officials said it has a 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm.
“Ultimately, regardless of what happens for the end of the week, this ups our rain chances for Texas and the South Central area,” he said.
The forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Friday.
Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t waiting for the disturbance to develop. On Monday, he ordered the Texas State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level from IV, which is considered normal conditions, to III, an increased state of readiness. The change will begin at noon Tuesday, officials said in a news release.
“In light of recent heavy rainfall across the state, we are on high alert, as any additional rain could quickly create dangerous flash flooding conditions,” Abbott said in a statement.
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Over the past week, areas north of Uvalde and San Antonio have seen more than 10 inches of rainfall.
All that rain has helped refill the Edwards Aquifer.
On Sept. 3, the J-17 well rose 6.1 feet to 642.3 feet in elevation in a 24-hour period, making it the fifth-largest single-day jump in Edwards Aquifer Authority records. The weather service recorded 6.07 inches of rain that day, breaking the daily rainfall record of 1.76 from 1889.
“This is the time of year when we can begin to look at long-term improvements,” SAWS spokeswoman Anne Hayden said.
Since that Sept. 3 jump, the rains have brought a steady increase to the well, Edwards Aquifer Authority spokeswoman Ann-Margaret Gonzalez said. As of Monday, it was at 659.7 feet.
“We’ll continue to see it rise as we experience more rainfall,” she said.
Both SAWS and EAA rely on a 10-day-average when weighing stage restrictions. With the latest batch of rain, that average has reached 650.7 feet, above the level that triggers Stage 2 restrictions.
But for SAWS to lift restrictions, the aquifer must be above trigger levels for 15 days, Hayden said.
The EAA also has to consider levels of other water sources, including the Comal Springs, before lifting restrictions.
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The springs’ 10-day-average was at 181 cubic feet per second Monday. It would need to be at or above 200 for restrictions to be lifted, Gonzalez said.
“The 10-day average is what really makes a difference for the Edwards Aquifer as whole,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the stability in water at the aquifer to stay at a certain threshold.”
Even if Stage 2 restrictions are lifted, watering will still be limited to “once a week, just different hours,” Hayden said.
“With the rain that we’ve had, people shouldn’t need to water for at least a couple of weeks,” she said. “Turn off your sprinkler systems right now. It saves some money.”
Jacob Beltran is a reporter covering San Antonio and Bexar County. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | | Twitter: @JBfromSA