Newly revamped 'ATXFloods' website a resource ahead of rainy week

Central Texas is no stranger to flash flooding.  

Prime example: the shocking surveillance video from inside Shoal Creek Saloon on Memorial Day of 2015 showing rushing water overtaking the empty restaurant.

That low water crossing on North Lamar is one of hundreds of spots across the area monitored by a website called, a partnership between local governments.

Scott Prinsen, Manager of the City of Austin's "Flood Early Warning System" says the site got a major upgrade this summer.

"Easier to read, we had been on the original version for about 6 years I believe and at that point it was a great launch but after 6 years it was starting to show its age.  Needed some upgrading, some clean-up and we did that," Prinsen said.

Drivers about to head out into the elements can check the site to see if any low-water crossings are closed on their route.
The old website just highlighted open crossings in green, closed in red.  

Now, there's "yellow" for caution.

"We've had some instances where the water has gotten close to overtopping, maybe a low water crossing briefly and then it went back down and then if it rains again it will come back up so those could be identified as caution," Prinsen said.

Another tool in the toolbox: cameras at certain low-water crossings like the one at Waller Creek and 45th.   
They communicate with the city wirelessly and provide a minute by minute look at the conditions.  

The site has had cameras for years but Prinsen says more were added recently and even more are coming this fall. 

"They're very reliable, they're very durable and being a game camera they're not very expensive so we could lose them in a flood and they're easy to replace," Prinsen said.  

Edward Cox is a Ham radio operator with Travis County Amateur Radio Emergency Services.  

"We often say when everything else fails we'll still be able to communicate," Cox said.

Cox volunteers at the Combined Transportation, Emergency & Communications Center.  
He was there Tuesday tuning up his equipment.  
The Flood Early Warning team says Cox is instrumental during disasters like the floods we've seen in recent years.

"Going out to bridges and river gauges where there's a low-water crossing or whatever and running broadcasts every 15 to 20 minutes of what the level of the water was in there.  They have a lot more automated gauges now but there's still a lot of places where they have an interest in covering it," Cox said.

As for whether his team's services will be needed in the near future...

"We're always ready," he said. 

Prinsen says because of the drought, the soils in Central Texas have a ways to go before they get saturated which would put us in danger of flooding.

But they're always conscious of the forecast.

"We always have it in the back of our minds that sometimes droughts are often broken by floods.  So we have to always maintain that awareness," Prinsen said.