Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 Warmest Year on Record for Austin

Reposting interesting year in weather article from Austin American Statesman, without all the Click bait and auto starting videos, etc. Retaining some hyperlinks. Original article link
ROBERTO VILLALPANDO   Roberto Villalpando is the mobile/breaking news editor for the American-Statesman.
Austin’s 42 days of triple-digit temperatures last summer helped make 2017 one of the city’s hottest on record.
Only one thing could eclipse the news that 2017 was Austin’s hottest year since the National Weather Service began keeping records in the 1890s: Hurricane Harvey.
According to weather service data, 2017’s average temperature was 72.1 degrees, only a tenth of a degree higher than the previous hottest year ever, 2011 — a record-setting year when Austin was in the throes of a historic drought, and the city weathered an unprecedented 90 days of 100-degree heat.
The data show, however, that had it not been for Hurricane Harvey, 2017 could have been a lot hotter.
Before Harvey, the year was already likely to be remembered most for Austin’s warmest winter, which included four freak tornadoes in February. As much as Austin’s 42 days of triple-digit temperatures last summer were seared into our memories, no one was likely going to forget the sight of the rare double snowfall in December.
Austin’s year in weird weather began with an unusually warm, soggy January that produced 4.13 inches of rain — nearly 2 inches more than normal — and posted a historically high average temperature of 56.7 degrees, which was 5.2 degrees above normal.
The early bloom of wildflowers the following month should have been the tip-off that Austin would conclude its warmest winter ever with its warmest February ever. The average temperature for the month was 64.5 degrees, about 3 degrees more than the next-warmest February, which was back in 1999.
But the same winter that delivered the first 90-degree day of 2017 on Feb. 23 — about two months earlier than normal — also produced four nighttime twisters on Feb. 19 and 20Two tornadoes ravaged southeastern Williamson County, one twister touched down in Hays County near San Marcos and Kyle, and another struck near Niederwald and Mustang Ridge in Travis County.
“We’ve just really had no winter,” Troy Kimmel, a University of Texas meteorologist and instructor told the American-Statesman’s Marty Toohey in March. “We saw winter on the calendar, but we didn’t see it in real life.”
The above-normal warmth continued for another month, as Austin saw its warmest March ever. The average temperature of 68.6 degrees broke a 110-year record.
The weirdness persisted in April, when a series of stalled thunderstorms on April 11 flooded communities from Killeen to San Marcos, but largely shunned Austin. The city’s lackluster rain totals in April became an early indicator for the dry seasons to come. The month, which normally sees 2.09 inches at the Camp Mabry weather station, produced only 1.22 inches there.
May, historically Austin’s wettest month, delivered only 2.86 inches of rain, well short of the 4.44 inches it normally produces. June clouds did drop about 3 inches of rain, but the total was still more than an inch less than normal. July was even worse for rainfall: A month that typically sees 1.88 inches recorded less than a quarter-inch.
Then came Harvey.
The zombie tropical cyclone had broken up near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula only to be reborn stronger, fueled by abnormally warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm smashed into Texas twice, and it fueled storms that dumped as much as 29 inches of rain east of Smithville and caused the Colorado River to top its banks in Bastrop and Fayette counties. The Colorado flooded La Grange when the river crested at 54 feet, its highest level in 104 years.
As Harvey thrashed the Texas coast over four days, from Aug. 25 to 28, Camp Mabry received nearly 8 inches of rain while about 10 inches fell at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Harvey’s damaging winds and heavy rains also briefly shut down Austin’s summer swelter. Once the hurricane arrived in Texas, temperatures in Austin on Aug. 26 reached only 76 degrees, the lowest that temperatures have ever peaked on that date.
By month’s end, 10.44 inches of rain had fallen in Austin, and August’s average temperature was 85.3 degrees, about half a degree cooler than normal.
Austin spent much of September drying out from Harvey, and temperatures largely hewed close to normal ranges. The average temperature was 79.9 degrees, just 0.1 degree cooler than normal. But the 2.03 inches of rainfall came in nearly an inch less than normal for that month.
La Niña, the seasonal cooling of the waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean that can drive weather patterns in Texas, began to take hold in October. In Central Texas, La Niña events can translate into milder, drier weather, depending on the time of year. For Austin, that meant seeing “wet” months like October only produce 1.76 inches of rain when it typically delivers 3.88 inches; or seeing November eke out 0.12 inch of rain when it normally gets almost 3 inches.
But December’s rainfall helped make up for the lack of moisture in the fall. Not only did the month see 4.31 inches of rain — nearly 80 percent more than normal — but Austin witnessed what some might consider a holiday miracle: snow on the nights of Dec. 7 and 31.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Waste Water Averaging Starts soon in CoA! Strategies to lower water usage.

Check you City of Austin Utilities bill page one for the dates of you waste water averaging period. Below is a snapshot of my water bill showing the 3 MONTH wastewater averaging period. I like to put a reminder on my calendar the DAY BEFORE the period starts, so for me, I shut down my irrigation on 12/10/17 and turn it back on or put it back into service on 3/13/17, the DAY AFTER the averaging period ends.

This info is for City of Austin Water Customers. If you are on a different water system, please contact you local water purveyor for more information on how and when they calculate your water ware average.

This winter is predicted to still be fairly WARM AND WINDY AND DRY as we are in a LA NINA weather pattern

We normally recommend COMPLETE SHUTDOWN of ALL AUTOMATIC IRRIGATION in the WASTEWATER AVERAGING PERIOD. Below are some strategies to deal with landscape preservation during this 3 month period.


1. SHUT OFF BACKFLOW, Turn controller to OFF, RUN 2 MIN TEST CYCLE to DEPRESSURIZE and drain much of the mainline.
2. Hand water any critical plants and trees as needed.
This is the most conservative method and will result in the lowest waste water averaging bill. Also prevents any "runaway" programming in case there is a power outage and the controller gets scrambled or decides to water every day. Very important for anyone going out of town for the holidays.

Even if you don't want to be a WATER MISER this winter, you should be throttling back your watering to 50% or LESS of your summer watering.

There are multiple approaches to programming. Each has their benefits.


1. Most controllers have a WATER BUDGET which can we set to a percentage, change the percentage from 100% to a new setting of 50% and you are done. Keep the same 1 day a week that the city of austin's watering restrictions allow and you will have a predictable watering


1. Leave your WATER BUDGET on 100%
2. Change the WATER DAYS from CALENDAR to CYCLICAL.Changing the FREQUENCY of watering. With cooler weather and less hours of sunlight in the WINTER there is less Evaporation and Transpiration by plants. So the theoretical "soil moisture gas tank" does not get drawn down as quickly, so it does not need to be filled as frequently. You can go to an EVERY OTHER WEEK watering schedule ( sometimes called CYCLICAL or a 14 day watering cycle )
This programming results in the same amount of water savings or approximately 50% of summer usage.This is a little harder to program and I would probably just recommend the next method. since it is simpler and has less programming.

HYBRID ON week / OFF week.

1. Leave all settings the same as summer. TURN the Controller dial to OFF.
2. Turn the controller to ON/ AUTO the night before you scheduled watering day. Turn if OFF the night after it completes its cycle.
There is some "memory" involved in this method, which can be remedied with calendar reminders on smart phones or computers.


1. This is pretty much the same thing as the ON / OFF week, except  that you only water if there is no rain for 2 weeks, LEAVE the CONTROLLER OFF and either run it MANUALLY or turn it to RUN/AUTO if we have not had rain for the past 14 days

Remember you can HAND WATER ANYTIME as needed is allow in the city of austin ordinance.  As long as the hose is in your hands, you are cognizant and OK to water anytime. RAIN BARRELS are good source of non chlorinated "free" water during these waste water averaging periods. They make a good Christmas gift and encourage conservation.

Speaking of smart phones, for those with SMART CONTROLLERS or INTEREST in a SMART CONTROLLER. We have plenty of experience in programming and have installed  HUNDREDS or SMART CONTROLLERS, SENSORS and WIFI based controllers for our clients and these can be a great Christmas gift for the holidays. The GIFT  that pays you back in better accurate watering and more customizable control compared to "set it and forget it" RUN TIME based controllers.

Hope this helps.

Cougar Matt

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Daylight Savings is Over!

Daylight Savings is Over! Don't forget to turn back your irrigation clock.

November, it is also a good time to

1) Reduce watering to 50% of summer or only 1 day a week. For
2) Fall aerate you lawn and top dress with compost.
(OR apply one last fertilization to put your turfgrass in great shape for winter )
3) Get ready to shut down your irrigation system for the season.
4) Plant a Tree! ( Nov-Feb are the best times to plant a tree )

If you need any advice or consultation on any of these things, don't hesitate to contact us!

I will be expanding on these 4 items in future blogs.

Cougar MATT

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 2016 = 6-8" of rainfail in most of Central Texas

April ended with one last storm rolling through Central, TX pushing 737s airplanes around the tarmac with winds over 60 mph at the ABIA.  The latest storms firmly putting us over 6" of rainfall for the month with some areas getting closer to 8" south and to the east.

This past week saw 22,000+ people loose power in the Austin Energy service area.

A tornado even plopped down near Elgin early Saturday morning downing trees and witnesses saw a trampoline on a power line. Power is still not restored in parts of Elgin.

Some parts of Texas,  West of La Grange saw over 20" and we only can offer condolences to the people in Houston, Palestine, and Gulf Coast area as they saw severe flooding throughout the month with loss of property as well as lives.

Be safe and don't irrigate until the ground drys out!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Austin Water 1 day per week watering survey, online

Austin Water is considering making permanent restrictions to watering schedules following the severe Texas drought.
The changes would mean Austinites could only water once-a-week. As this proposal moves into the hands of the City Council, Austin Water asks for the community’s feedback on the restrictions.
These restrictions played a key role in keeping Highland Lake levels from dropping to emergency levels during the peak drought days, according to Austin Water.
You have a chance to voice your opinion at the Open House Meetings throughout January. The meetings run between 6-8 p.m.
  • Jan. 7 Hampton Branch Library (5125 Convict Hill Rd, 78749)
  • Jan. 12 Southeast Branch Library (5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, 78744)
  • Jan. 21 Carver Branch Library (1161 Angelina St., 78702)
  • Jan. 26 Spicewood Springs Branch (8637 Spicewood Springs Rd, 78759)
A final public workshop wrap-up meeting will be Feb. 3 at Waller Creek Center, room 104.
Feedback can also be given online by taking a survey.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday, September 17, 2015

TexasET Network Landscape Watering Recommendations 1/2"- "Cougar Austin Redbud"

Finally starting to cool off. All week, no higher than the 90s, ground temperatures will start to fall and we should see the warm season grasses come out of their  "heat dormancy" Warm season grasses tend to go heat dormant when the ground/root zone temperatures are in the 83-86 degree Fahrenheit range. Mid September, Oct, November are the months to regrow the bare spots and achieve full ground cover before winter.  If your turf is looking OK , then 1/2" of water should keep it vibrant, if you need to fill in some areas, adding some compost and closer to 1" of water ( maybe hand watering or hose end sprinkling an area) will be needed to encourage runners...COugar Matt out.

Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension
Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension
Watering recommendation for "Cougar Austin Redbud" for the past 7 days:0.41 inches*
DateEToMax TemperatureMin TemperatureMin HumidityTotal Rainfall
NOTE: These reported values are hourly averages, not absolute highs and lows.
*Recommendations based on the following parameters (assuming no rainfall):
Adjust this watering recommendation for any rainfall that you have received during this time period.
TexasET Weather Station :Austin (LCRA Redbud)
Plant Coefficient :Warm Season
Adjustment factor :Normal
This information is provided by the "Irrigation Technology Program" under the direction of Dr. Guy Fipps. If you would like to discontinue service please click on the link above to log into your TexasET profile. To discontinue service for only this station select "modify" from your site list and delete the site. To discontinue all TexasET emails select "Modify your user profile" and uncheck "Receive watering recommendations by email".
This email was sent to by Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension
Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension 600 John Kimbrough BLVD, Suite 509 7101 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-7101