First Person: La Nina Threatens Texas' Medina Lake

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First Person: La Nina Threatens Texas' Medina Lake

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FIRST PERSON | LAKE HILLS, Texas -- From our hillside home overlooking a parched Medina Lake, my wife and I fear that the present drought, now simmering into a fourth La Nina season, will devastate our hill country paradise.

As one of the driest regions in the state, historic Medina Lake -- created in 1912 -- is down more than 85 feet and stands at 4.4 percent capacity. Once a popular resort, a new wasteland now makes for a sad postcard.

It's been down before.


In this rustic community of almost 6,000 residents, optimistic neighbors are quick to point out that Medina Lake, a historically drought-prone area, has survived other famines for more than a century.


Eventual rains do restore our lake and life in the rolling hills of south central Texas continues: Water irrigates blacktop farmlands. Texans enjoy an aquatic playground, and, since about 1999, Medina Lake Dam supplies water to nearby thirsting San Antonio.

But times are changing.

In fact, it's the reason we worry, as global warming forecasts harder times. According to Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, a steady rise in temperatures and drier seasons may well become our new norm.

Say it ain't so!

We love our lake.

Sadly, the mounting evidence regarding climactic change is becoming more difficult to deny. In "The 2011 Drought," Nielsen-Gammon presents alarming data:

- Since 2000, global weather patterns make Texas more susceptible to drought.

- Summer temperatures for 2011 averaged 2 degrees Fahrenheit over state record.

- The 2011 drought is the most intense one-year famine since about 1895.

We're concerned.

As Medina Lake vanishes, so too its quaint towns of Mico and Lake Hills. At times, in fact -- during a high noon, under a blaring sun -- in the shimmering waves of a desert-like heat the signs of exodus conjure ominous images of ghost towns.

It's happening.

Like some of our neighbors, my wife and I consider moving. For sale: Beautiful lakeside home nestled in panoramic country charm just minutes from San Antonio. Cheap. BYOL.

But we remain.

We hope.

Specifically, we pray that La Nina stays away. As the source of climate extremes across the Southwest, La Nina means drier, hotter temperatures and other factors that exacerbate drought.

Climatologists agree that La Nina typically runs nine to 12 months, occasionally lasting two years. But as we slip into our fourth year of drought -- knowing we desperately need rain -- the latest predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stun the spirit.

The forecast: scorching to partly hellish.

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