Lengthy Drought Caused This Lake in Texas To Vanish

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: May 15, 2024

A prolonged drought has been causing widespread issues throughout western states. In Texas, officials have closed Medina Lake due to the drastic reduction in water levels caused by a heat wave and water shortage.

Severe weather in the state has plagued some areas with flooding and destruction, while water shortages have cursed others with dried-up lakes and water usage restrictions for the month of May.

Texas Has Been Struggling With Severe Weather

In the past month, Texas has struggled with aggressive heat waves and flooding in the Gulf Coast of Mexico, making the state more vulnerable to hurricanes.

A view of a dry lake bed with minimal grass and trees under a blue sky with white clouds

Source: @TXLoneStarLive/X

After the sun dries up the soil and kills much-needed vegetation, heavy rains or water from rising sea levels cannot be absorbed into the land, making the area more susceptible to tropical storms and landslides.

Floods Reported in Houston Earlier This Month

More than six inches of rain was recorded in Houston in the first week of May. The watery deluge caused severe flooding and forced officials to close Lake Houston, a popular recreational site.

A large lake with muddy waters floods around the shoreline

Source: @Jim_n_Texas/X

Water from the lake was seen creeping into the yards of nearby residents and caused traffic issues in the area. The massive storm system caused extreme precipitation, which also deposited a large amount of snow in northern California as it moved East.

Heavy Rains on the Wrong Side of the State

However, the rain was secluded to the Eastern side of the state and failed to benefit the dry landscape in Bandera or Medina County, where Medina Lake is situated.

A large flowing river with lush greenery on either side

Source: @TheYurokTribe/X

Residents in Polk County were evacuated last week. Severe rainfall caused the Trinity River to overflow, forcing operators at a nearby dam to open the floodgates and release pressure. The county saw more than 12 inches of rain in a single week, well above the average for an entire month.

Medina Lake Was Full Just a Few Years Ago

As recently as 2019, Medina Lake was full and thriving. It was used as a recreational site for nearby residents and a habitat for dozens of species.

A low lake bed with large piles of dirt and homes in the background

Source: @Everest_Place/X

Now, the lake is only 2.7 percent full, a drastic reduction in the past five years caused by ongoing droughts in the region.

The Entire County Is Suffering From the Drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor, an official resource for residents to check the water levels in their area, reported on Wednesday morning that no area in Bandera County was immune.

An image of dry and cracked land, indicative of drought

Source: Mike Erskine/Unsplash

The entire county is currently suffering from a water drought, and more than two-thirds of the county is plagued by extreme drought. Residents in these areas will be placed on water shortage restrictions, and each home will be monitored for usage.


Medina County Also Affected

Adjacent to Bandera, Medina County has suffered from the same issues of low-lying water reservoirs and a lack of rain.

A low lying lake bed surrounded by dry land and a steep hill

Source: @meltxst/X

More than 80 percent of Medina is currently suffering from a lack of water, and almost 26 percent has been labelled extreme drought. These numbers are up from last year when the state experienced a lengthy heat wave that caused wildfires and even more lakes to disappear.


Popular Tourist Destinations Shut Down

A massive 200,000-acre lake in Comal County was shut down in the last week of April due to receding water levels.

Aerial view of Canyon Lake and the surrounding area

Source: CanyonLakesocal.com

Canyon Lake experienced its lowest water levels since its construction in the 1960s. Texas Water Data recorded that the lake was a mere 50 percent filled. The low levels caused the lake’s boat ramp to close, and officials recommended that residents stay out for now.


Massive Fluctuations Reported in Belton

Another lake on the receiving end of an onslaught of rain is Belton Lake, which is located in the township of Belton.

A lake on a stormy day with multiple boats with fishermen

Source: Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons

Although the area was plagued by droughts just last year, the lake recently reached a two-year high due to the massive influx of rain. After reaching as low as 60 percent, the parched reservoir is expected to fill entirely in the next few weeks as storms continue.


Unclear if Medina Lake Can Recover

While many lakes in the state appear to vary in hydration levels over the years, Medina Lake is at risk of disappearing altogether.

A boat sits on the bed of a lake with low lying water levels next to three long boat docks also sitting on the lake bed

Source: @kentphotos/X

Lakes have been known to vanish during massive droughts and never recover completely. In 1980, a lengthy heatwave caused Lake Peigneur in Louisiana to dry up completely. The lake bed still sits empty today.


Similar Levels Recorded in 2015

Almost a decade ago, Medina Lake was almost completely empty. However, increased rain in the following months allowed the lake to recover.

An empty lake bed with dry rock and grass, surrounded by green trees

Source: @SchloemerZ/X

In 1948, the lake was also at risk of extinction. The lowest level that Medina ever hit was 936 feet above sea level.


Predictions for Droughts in the Area

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has issued a months-long drought forecast for the spring and summer.

A dry lake bed with cracks in mud

Source: Oleksandr Sushko/Unsplash

Water problems are expected to continue in the state, and the droughts will likely worsen in the coming weeks. Residents are urged to stay informed of all rainfall and water restrictions in the area.