Memorial Park, once known for its tree lined shaded exercise trails, lost much of the natural fencing separating the park from the interstate and its trails from its golf course. It is perhaps Houston's most visual urban reminder of the drought of 2011, but located just down the street, another, less visible area was also hit hard.
"The drought of 2011 killed approximately half or more of the trees here on our 155 acres.", said Joe Blanton, with the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. "2012, we had an excess amount of rain, so that formally ended the drought conditions. However in this spring of 2013 again, (we got) less than 20 inches of rain and so many of the trees that survive the drought are having difficulty continuing to grow."
Many of us have noticed it in our yards.
Trees are dropping leaves.
Plants are wilting.
Our area is one of the luckier spots in Texas, classified as only abnormally dry or experiencing a moderate drought, rather than suffering severe, extreme or extraordinary conditions on a state drought map.
Unlike other cities, Houston leaders have not issued water restrictions, nor are there any immediate plans to do so. Houston owns rights to much of Lake Conroe for municipal water purposes, the lake, as seen through a current photo taken from NASA satellites, doesn't seem to be in as bad a shape as Lake Travis, near Austin.
The images of dropping lake levels on Travis, thirsty plants, brittle trees and even shifting home foundations are reminiscent of what happened two years ago, when daily water main breaks more than tripled in Houston, and thirsty animals started changing their habits in search of water.
Back in 2011, critters of all types- from cute baby owls to slithery snakes- were popping up in unlikely places, and according to Blanton, it's already happening again.
"Much of what they eat is dependent upon rainfall, whether it be plant material or insects or other animals in the soil or leaves," he said. "In dry periods there isn't much food for them to find."