Historic flooding has hit the Texas Hill Country, and it’s a wild ride.
First thing’s first, Lake Travis was officially 100% full as of yesterday. Now it’s just flooded.
In case you missed the blow-by-blow flood details, we’ve got it all wrapped up for you today. Of course, safety is paramount, so no matter what you do, don’t go for a joy ride in the lake. LCRA officially closed The Highland Lakes on October 16, 2018. It’s is seriously dangerous, friends.
It started around 7am on Tuesday
If you kicked off your day by watching the local news, you might have noticed the TODAY Show never came on. That’s because KXAN ran flood coverage all morning.
By around 8:30am, people started to realize this flood was going to be big and most of us were unprepared for it. We had tons of rain last week and it hardly moved the dial on lake levels.
Well, this rain was different …
The video footage of the flood waters on KXAN was just mind-boggling. The Max Starcke Dam looked like a massive washing machine churning up boats, docks, and trees.
As of October 16, Governor Abbott increased readiness, so this historic flooding became a statewide emergency to make sure everyone is safe, and resources are being utilized.
In an interview on Tuesday morning, John Hofmann with LCRA said, “it’s a very very significant event based out of Llano River watershed. It has rained at a considerable rate for a couple of days on an already saturated watershed. The 48 hour rainfall totals are in the range of 8-12 inches.”
As the water flowed over Starcke Dam, KXAN meteorologist David Yeomans watched in awe and called it an “unsurvivable” flow.
Snapshot of Lake Travis
Since midnight on Monday, Lake Travis has been rising at a rate of a foot an hour. The famous “sometimes islands” near Mansfield Dam disappeared overnight.
As of last Tuesday night at around 7pm, Lake Travis was 109% full. Lake levels are expected to reach 690′ to 695′, according to LCRA estimates.
Flooding was visible by yesterday afternoon at spots like Lakeway City Park, where the steam rising made for an eerie sight. We time-stamped pics at a local boat ramp near Hurst Creek to illustrate just how fast the water was rising.
You’re witnessing history in Texas
The numbers we’ve seen makes this the highest flood on the Llano River since 1935. It went up 35 feet!
Even smaller bodies of water that flow into Lake LBJ — like Sandy Creek — had elevated warnings yesterday to “major flood.” This is why meteorologists keep calling it an “unprecedented” event.
182 Olympic-sized pools
As the Highland Lakes flow, the flooding started in the Llano River and continued to rise quickly throughout Monday night, even after it seemed to peak. It peaked or crested several times.
As Hofmann explained, the cubic feet of water that were rising — the inflow rate — would be the equivalent of 182 Olympic-sized swimming pools every minute.
Wrap your brains around that for a sec …
Anticipated flood wave
The craziest part of this story became clear yesterday when meteorologists on KXAN explained the flood wave. Based on their calculations, the 10-11 foot flood wave (or rise) was headed down Lake LBJ over Wirtz Dam into Lake Marble Falls. Last night it came knocking on our door, and we had no choice but to say “howdy, come on in!”
Starcke Dam churning out boats & debris
The water flowing out of Lake Marble Falls looked more like whitewater rapids dumping into Lake Travis with all ten floodgates open, which is the max number of floodgates. Dozens of empty boats, jet skis, kayaks, boat dock pieces, and trees were flying over Starcke Dam yesterday.
Docks, boats, marinas, homes and other structures were merely demolished by the mighty flood waters including the 2900 bridge.
Boats still attached to docks were spotted going over the dam and floating under bridges. That shredded, twisted debris is in Lake Travis now.
2900 bridge over Llano River collapsed
The 2900 bridge in Kingsland, TX, collapsed yesterday around 9:30am. Long-time residents say they’ve never seen anything like it.
According to Sheriff Calvin Boyd, the 2900 bridge was catching a lot of debris (like big ski boats) yesterday, which was a contributing factor to its failure. Sheriff Boyd didn’t think other bridges in the area would be affected by the flood waters.
One resident interviewed on KXAN, Craig McDougal, has lived on Lake LBJ since 1959 and says what they witnessed is unbelievable.
He reminded viewers that the power of rushing water is often underestimated, so the bridge collapsing serves as a reminder about just how dangerous flood situations can be. McDougal said he and his wife were watching boats and structures float by, unable to do anything but stay put and stay safe.
Be safe and be well today, Lake Travis!