Nature

That Time a Texas Lake Dried Up Then Filled With Bluebonnets

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If you were in Central Texas in 2015, you probably remember just how bad the drought had grown. It started in the fall of 2010 and was caused by a persistent La Niña, a drier weather pattern due to surface temperatures in the Pacific being cooler than normal.

For the town of Spicewood Beach on Lake Travis, the situation had grown downright dire. They completely ran out of water in January of 2012 and began to have it trucked in. The wells which the town’s 1,100 residents depend on had become so low they were no longer reliable.

This portion of Lake Travis had almost completely dried up.

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Photo: Flickr/Jim Howard

Over time, bluebonnet seeds washed into the lake and had gathered at the bottom. The thing about a bluebonnet seed is when submerged it can sit dormant for long periods of time.

Once the seeds were no longer covered by water they began to germinate.

Bluebonnets in full bloom at the bottom of Lake Travis.Photo: Jason Weingart

Bluebonnet seeds have a built-in survival mechanism. During their first season, only some germinate in case they face harsh conditions such as a drought. By 2014 the plants had overtaken the dried up lake bed.

Bluebonnets covered several acres worth of landscape.

Wide angle image of the massive bluebonnet field at Muleshoe Bend.Photo: Jason Weingart

The bluebonnets here bloomed incredibly thick. They were also very tall and full.

The blooms didn’t just cover a lot of area, they were also very thick. 

Bluebonnets overtake a dry lake bed in Spicewood, Texas. Photo: Jason Weingart

Dirt roads were run throughout the bluebonnets, allowing visitors to drive their vehicles around to find different vantage points.

It was like driving through pure Texas bliss. 

Temporary dirt road run through bluebonnets in Spicewood, Texas. Photo: Jason Weingart

The drought was broken when a series of heavy rainfall events impacted the area beginning in late spring of 2015. By the time the 2016 bluebonnet season rolled around, the fields were completely underwater. 

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