Triple-digit temperatures in the Lake Travis area rolled out as quickly as they arrived back in July. Blazing heat and crunchy yellow grass has been exchanged for unusually cool and rainy days this week.
Austin just had the coolest August 15th on record since the 1800s. If you were wearing a long sleeve jacket in your home yesterday and watching the Olympics tucked under a blanket, you weren’t alone.
Thanks to all of the rain, Lake Travis is back up to 95% full. Waking up to your smartphone honking and buzzing at you is part of the process as the lake refills and you deal with flash flooding. And flash flooding in this area is serious business.
Flash Flood Alley
While the Texas Hill Country is a beautiful place to live, its steep terrain and shallow soil makes it a hot spot for flash floods. It’s known as one of the nation’s most flood-prone areas.
As you know too well, heavy rains can quickly cause severe (and scary!) flooding. While LCRA operates six dams on the lower Colorado River, Mansfield Dam is the only one designed to protect Austin from flooding.
So what does all of this rain mean for the lake?
Well, at 95% full Lake Travis is currently at 679 feet, which means you probably won’t see a water release at Mansfield Dam anytime soon. Lake Travis is officially full at 681 feet and not quite there yet.
Low Water Crossings
As of August 16th, 74 of the 1680 low water crossings are closed. Six of these are located in the Lake Travis area.
According to LCRA, the rainfall in the Lake Travis area has been significant. In the past five days, Lakeway has seen a total 10.74 inches of rain and Steiner Ranch has seen 8.39 inches of rain. And more is on the way.
Earlier this week, a low water crossing arm malfunctioned near Spicewood Springs Road where water was gushing across the road. Obviously, drivers should be savvy enough to understand the danger, but you hear about low water crossing accidents all of the time. That’s why the city has installed flashing lights at 17 low water crossings and an automated gate arm at three of them.
The danger is real
Did you know it only takes six inches of rushing water to knock a person off their feet and merely two feet of rushing water (or less) to carry away your car, including SUVs and trucks. That’s why you should never drive into a flooded roadway, especially at night when you can’t accurately perceive the depth.
Once cars are swept away, they typically roll to one side or flip over entirely. If you’re ever in doubt, always turn around.
More rain in the forecast
The chances of thunderstorms diminish somewhat in the coming week, but the threat of rain is still looming for the next 6-7 days. And now that the ground is completely saturated, flash floods will continue to be a problem, even with a minimal amount of rainfall.
The good news is you can give your AC a break and turn off those sprinklers!
Plus, thanks to some of our local indoor hangouts like High 5, Moviehouse & Eatery, and Hill Country Galleria’s enhanced movie theater seating, there’s still plenty to do before heading back to school.