AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It was about this same time last year that the rain shut off and we wouldn’t measure it again for more than 6 months. Boy, things have changed this year!
Some parts of our area have had more rain over the past couple of weeks than the rest of the year put together.
This recent generous rainfall has transformed our landscape now with healthy vegetation growing and the reappearance of playa lakes. Many of these playa lakes had simply disappeared completely during the dry spell. These playas play a very important role in our Panhandle ecosystem. I spoke with Steve Evett of the USDA in Bushland.
“Playa lakes are really our only place for migratory waterfowl to land and this is an important corridor for migratory waterfowl coming from Canada and going south,” according to Evett. “There is plenty of wildlife around here, both the mammals that come in and drink out of the playas - we have badgers, we’ve got skunks galore, foxes, coyotes all kinds of wildlife and then the local birds.”
I noticed the cattle were using it.
“Oh, yeah the cattle always come down in here and, of course, once this dries out there will be a lot of growth in there,” Evett added.. “There will be really good salt water in there and a there will be a lot of growth so the cattle will graze that as they did this summer.”
The playa lake system is also an integral component for sustaining and even recharging the level of our aquifers.
Evett explained, "It's now full enough that we are getting recharge into the Ogalalla. The bottom of the lake is very clay, water doesn't move through that, it saturates quickly and swells up and stops water movement. But on the edges, the soil is a lot sandier so when they fill up this full, we start to get recharge all around the periphery of these lakes and that is significant."
With an optimistic outlook for continued precipitation these fall and winter seasons there is hope that our underground water table and even the aquifer level could actually rise.
“It depends,” Evett continued. “If we get this El Nino - La Nina shift and we start to get really big precipitation we could see that. It would be great to see.”
You know, after going so many months straight without rainfall, lately we are hardly going a day without rainfall and this thirsty country is benefiting greatly. Now that’s some good news.