Keith Kridler, Texas

Texas drought and wildfires

September 6, 2011
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Photos show the low water levels on Lake Travis, one of the five larger
lakes damming up the Colorado River in Central Texas where the worst of the
wildfires are burning currently. They have only had five inches of rainfall
locally since the first of the year. The Colorado River has actually dried
up feeding these lakes.

In the second photo in the top right corner, over the Limestone Rock/Pink
Granite ridge you can see the smoke from the Spicewood Fire this last Sunday
that still had hot spots burning as of late Monday night. There were 67
homes destroyed in this one smaller fire north of Austin, that they know of
as of Monday afternoon.

This is a 19,000 acre (8,500 hectare) “feeder” lake for the smaller
hydro-electric dams down stream but the lake level is about 36 feet or 12
meters lower than “normal pool level” and very near the lowest level ever
since the lake was finished in 1941.

This was mostly ranch land with Mountain Juniper and Live Oak & Mesquite
trees dominating the plants and these are providing the fuel for these
massive fires.

Notice that lake front home owners use floating boat docks and floating
sections of walkways to connect their back patios to their boat docks….As
the lake levels drop you go out and add on another section of walkway to
keep your boat dock floating out in the lake. Normal water level is way up
where you see the concrete retaining walls near these homes. This lake is
normally 53 miles long.

Grass in the photo fore front where I was standing is actually about 12 feet
below “normal lake level” and our GPS showed that we were well out beyond
the middle point on this lake, WAY out from the normal shore line… The
first “cold front” for the year blew in on Monday and winds were ripping at
45 MPH fanning 63 major fires across the state of Texas.

Sandy and I spent the weekend helping her uncle repair water lines and
installing water faucets and sprinklers around his home and pecan orchard
north of Leander Texas. Leander had three “small” fires inside the city
limits on Monday afternoon after we left for our home.

We drove for 300 miles and there were columns of smoke around us for the
entire trip! For the first time ever we are having “crown” fires in the
dried up forests here in northeast Texas.

We passed convoys of power company trucks on the roads. All of the local
volunteer fire trucks were either out fighting fires or they were all fueled
up sitting in staging areas as there were three major fires within 40 miles
of Mt. Pleasant. National guard convoys of bull dozers, fire plows were
fueling up along with massive water tanker trunks.

The sky was blackened with spent smoke from local fires as we were pulling
into
our county. Some of these fires are so huge and so hot and the smoke is so
dense that they are showing up on weather radar as “falling rain”! Smoke was
topping out on weather radar at around 14,000 feet. Keith Kridler Mt.
Pleasant, Texas

4 Responses to Texas drought and wildfires

  1. Ethel Smith, Minnesota
    Ethel Smith, Minnesota
    September 6, 2011 at 8:29 am

    So glad to hear you and Sandy are okay – terrible for the state of
    Texas and all the folks affected by the drought and wildfires. Ethel
    Smith in MN

  2. David Liedlich, Connecticut
    September 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    We hope you get some rain. Tropical storm Lee was more than just a cruel joke, only providing winds to Texas to fan the flames, but not bringing any of the moisture that drenched other Gulf states..

    Dave Liedlich

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  3. Celia Jones, Louisiana
    September 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Keith, So sorry to hear such sad news. We finally received some rain last week. I’ve been mowing INSIDE my little used-to-be pond this summer. The deer are drinking mud and eating crinums. Celia in Louisiana

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Colleen Rourke, California
    September 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    The air is so dry here in NE Calif that even though I water with a fire
    hose, the shrubs can’t keep up. Within a day or two of flooding an area, it
    will be dry a foot or more down. I know how far down the dry goes because
    we are having to dig tree roots out of the septic tank.

    Colleen

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