Officials with the Lower Colorado River Authority said they are closely monitoring water levels at Lake Travis as we prepare for more rain in the forecast. They said it's possible they will have to open the floodgates at the Mansfield Dam, something that hasn't happened for years.
June of 2007 was the last time the floodgates were opened at the dam and many came out to see the rare sight. "Wow I’ve never seen it, he said lets come down here I’ve never seen it before it's amazing, amazing, a lot of water,” said one passerby.
That sight may be something we see again this year. “We can have these types of events at any month, now statistically we'll more likely have them in the next 3 months, this is traditionally our more rainy part of the year,” said John Hofmann, Executive Vice-President of the LCRA.
With Lake Travis 100% full, and more rain in the forecast, it has LCRA officials on high alert. “Every time we have one of these waves of thunderstorms, our guys are in preparedness mode getting ready for potential flood release,” Hofmann said.
In 2007, many homes in low lying areas near Lake Travis were flooded. Hofmann said they don't anticipate anything like that, but with an El Nino year, it could be something we see in the near future. “We are going to do everything we can to try to minimize that to a certain extent, but that is a part of the flood storage for our region,” he said.
LCRA officials took aerial footage of Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan in March of last year showing the effects of the drought in Central Texas. Combined storages of the lakes were just 39% capacity at the time.
Fast forward one year, aerials were taken in March showing a drastic difference with the lakes at a combined storage of 95% capacity.
Hofmann said so many new people have moved to Central Texas since the last time Lake Travis was full, many may not be experienced in Hill Country weather, and so resident’s old and new need to start preparing. “There's a reason why the Hill Country is called flash flood alley. It's because the type of rainfall events and how they end up resulting in floods.”
Hoffman suggests for those living around the lakes they need to prepare their boat docks. If they have equipment or property in areas that are flood prone, they need to move them, and have an emergency plan if homes get flooded.
For those new to the area, Hoffman said they need to become familiar where their property is relative to historic flooding events. He said they can talk to their local flood plain officials, or even just talk with neighbors to find out how high water got the last time.