Tucked away in West Texas, Lake J.B. Thomas was on the main sources of water for West Texas as well as a place for recreational activities. This time last year, you could practically walk across the lake, but the lake levels have changed drastically within the past year.
Eric Ahasic, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, says, "It is at 77% now, this time last year it was at 1% full. So, the lake has gone up 45 feet, lake levels just in the past year alone."
The lake hasn't seen levels like this since 1963. "It was actually pretty close to being full for most of the late 50s, early 60s. There was a drought in the mid to late 60s that really dropped the lake levels and it never really recovered from those levels until right now," explains Ahasic.
The low lake levels took decades to achieve. The impressive rise in lake levels is due to a couple of significant weather events. In September, the remnants of Hurricane Odile jump started the rise in lake levels. It went from one to forty-three percent capacity, which is the same as twenty-seven billion gallons of water!
"We had a couple of other big events like the New Year's Eve ice storm. It wasn't a whole lot of rain, but for the winter it was a good amount. Unfortunately, it was all freezing rain, so it wasn't too good for travel around here," adds Ahasic.
Another contributing factor was the active spring Texas had. May 2015 is the wettest May Texas has ever experienced. Most of Texas is now out of the drought, something West Texas hasn't seen since October 2010. When asked about rain totals across the area, Ahasic responded with, "If I had to pick a winner for the area, it would be the town of Gail up in Borden County, which has had almost forty inches of rain since September. All of that rain, actually, drains right into Lake J.B. Thomas."
“Having that water in J.B Thomas allows that system which provides water for Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, Snyder and San Angelo is a big deal," add Congressman Mike Conaway.
Lake J.B. Thomas is an oasis once more. One thing is certain, "It is amazing. It brings back a lot of memories," recalls Cherrie Arguello, who witnessed the drastic change in lake levels.
With this week's rain, the lake is now up to eighty percent capacity. J.B. Thomas is truly remarkable site.