‘Historic Flooding’ Swamping Texas Highland Lakes; More Rain Forecast Through Saturday

'Historic Flooding' Swamping Texas Highland Lakes; More Rain Forecast Through Saturday

October 18, 2018 – Rain will continue to fall in parts of flood-weary Texas through Saturday as dam releases on the rain-swollen lower Colorado River alleviate pressure from torrential rain earlier in the week.

The flooding has already claimed the lives of two people and prompted the governor to issue a state of emergency for several counties.


New rainfall is in the forecast for Texas, threatening hundreds more homes with devastating flooding. Several days of rain have swollen rivers and lakes to near-record levels. Flooding swamped homes and businesses, and prompted many rescues. At least two people are dead.

The homeowners were significantly unprepared for how fast the water was moving Wednesday. Most of their furniture and belongings are out on the lawn, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

At Scott Turner’s home in Kingsland, the rush of floodwater caught he and his family completely off-guard. “I would say it probably came 5 or 6 feet in a matter of 15 minutes,” Turner said.

“We got all this stuff out of my wife’s office and moved it into the house and as soon as we got it into the house, then the house started flooding. So we really didn’t have a chance to get anything out,” Turner said. “You’re just going through your head just thinking of what you can get out. You know, at that point, there was nothing, there was nothing we could do.”

His story is similar to ones seen across central Texas, as rising floodwaters have become increasingly dangerous. Crews have conducted several rescues – including one we came across Wednesday with two men in an SUV trapped in a ditch after they tried to cross a flooded road.

The big concern Thursday is for the Highland Lakes watershed, which is experiencing “historic flooding,” according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Lake Travis, one of the six Highland Lakes formed by dams along the lower Colorado River west of Austin, topped 700 feet early Thursday morning for only the sixth time on record and first time since the July 2007 flood.

'Historic Flooding' Swamping Texas Highland Lakes; More Rain Forecast Through Saturday

The lake was expected to rise another 5 to 10 feet by Friday, which would likely trigger a record eight floodgates to be opened at Mansfield Dam, at the base of Lake Travis about 13 miles northwest of downtown Austin, the LCRA stated in their Thursday morning flood operations report.

This was a controlled release from Lake Travis, to manage downstream river levels. However, flooding along the lake at Graveyard Point reached to the roofs of some homes, the Austin American Statesman reported.

According to the National Weather Service, a rise of another 5 to 10 feet would flood hundreds of homes at Graveyard Point, some with water into the second floor.

The LCRA said flood operations were ongoing at all of the six Highland Lakes. At Buchanan Dam in Llano County, eight floodgates were opened Wednesday.

Four more floodgates at Lake Travis will be opened by midday as the reservoir’s elevation at Mansfield Dam is expected to rise up to 710 feet above mean sea level, the Lower Colorado River Authority said.

Lady Bird Lake, downstream from Lake Travis, is expected to rise once water is released from the floodgates. The city of Austin, via its ATXfloods Twitter account, said two Austin locations along the river could be closed to traffic if flooding arises: Cesar Chavez Street at Lamar Boulevard in downtown Austin, and Pleasant Valley Road at Longhorn Dam in East Austin.

Since Sunday, several inches of rain have fallen in the Hill Country, an area already saturated since a wetter-than-normal September. The runoff has been flowing into tributaries, most notably the swollen Llano River, that feed the Highland Lakes along the Colorado River, including Lake Travis.

Floodwaters released from dams upstream on the Colorado River have caused Lake Travis’ elevation to rise to 701 feet above mean sea level as of Thursday morning, which is 30 feet above what’s considered “full” for the reservoir, according to the LCRA. The reservoir’s current storage of about 1.57 million acre-feet of water puts the lake about 39 percent above capacity.

With Thursday’s additional release, a total of eight floodgates will be open at Mansfield Dam, marking the most ever for Lake Travis. Floodgates at Mansfield and Tom Miller dams were opened Tuesday starting at noon, with the fourth gate at Mansfield being opened by 7 p.m.

Eight floodgates have been opened at Lake Buchanan, as well.

The Highland Lakes, which include Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin are closed because of dangerous conditions.

“Flooding rains and historic inflows into the lakes this week are causing fast, high flows throughout the Highlands Lakes. Anyone nearby should be extremely careful,” the LCRA said.

Mary Greeley News

credit: https://www.statesman.com/news/20181018/downstream-austin-braces-for-more-open-floodgates-at-lake-travis