One Confirmed Dead; Flooding in Central Texas as the Blanco River Rises to Historic Levels
One fatality has been reported, officials say. The man's identity has not been released publicly.
It's with heavy hearts that the City reports the first fatality of this flood event. No word on the man’s identity at this time #SMTXflood
— San Marcos (@CityofSanMarcos) May 24, 2015
Update Monday 8 a.m. We are reporting Monday's news here. A flash flood watch and a tornado watch are in effect for large parts of Central Texas as more severe weather is expected this afternoon and evening. Governor Greg Abbott is traveling to storm- and flood-damaged areas today, and we'll be covering his press conference in Wimberley at 1 p.m.
For information on how you can find or donate assistance, we are compiling a list here.
Update Sunday 5:45 p.m. Hays CISD has said that it WILL operate on a normal school schedule Monday. The day was scheduled as a makeup school day for a previous inclement weather event.
UPDATE Sunday 12:45 p.m.: Lower Colorado River Authority reports Lake Travis 53% full, up more than 14 feet in the past 7 days. Lake Buchanan up to 40% full.
UPDATE Sunday 12:30 p.m.: Austin Energy reports crews working on more than 200 "trouble calls," affecting 3,300 customers, expects service restoration to take 12 to 20 hours. Late Saturday night, outages were affecting close to 20,000 customers.
UPDATE Sunday 11:30 a.m.: Hays County officials have declared a curfew to go into effect Sunday at 9:00 p.m. in the interest of public safety. The notice cites downed power lines and washed-out roads, making nighttime travel treacherous. The Hays County Judge, along with the cities of San Marcos and Wimberley have instituted the curfew until 7:00 a.m. Monday. Through traffic on I-35 is not subject to the curfew, though authorities note that the Interstate could face further closures in the next 24 to 48 hours.
In Caldwell County, the Office of Emergency Management advises people along Plum Creek near Luling to move to higher ground. The Office says the flooding of the San Marcos River is causing the creek to flow backward. A shelter is open at Luling Junior High School. Approximately 1,000 people are out of their homes in Hays County, where hundreds of homes are reported to be damaged or destroyed.
UPDATE Sunday 10:40 a.m.: Flood Warnings are in effect for Barton Creek and Onion Creek in Austin. Barton Creek, near Loop 360, is expected to fall below flood stage by Monday morning. Onion Creek is expected to rise above flood stage Sunday afternoon to about 20 feet, at which level there is minor lowland flooding, but homes are unaffected.
UPDATE Sunday 10:05 a.m.: I-35 is open, according to the Kyle Fire Department, which advises travelers to expect delays through Hays County. The interstate had been closed when the Blanco River rose above the highway.
UPDATE Sunday 10:00 a.m.: The Flood Warning from the National Weather Service continues for the San Marcos River below Luling. The forecast calls for the river to rise to near 38 feet by Monday morning. Flood stage is 20 feet. The Weather Service says the river may not fall to below flood stage until mid-week. The Blanco River has risen above 40 feet near Wimberley. Flood stage is 13 feet. The National Weather Service expects the Blanco River to fall below flood stage by late Monday morning.
UPDATE Sunday 9:26 a.m.: In Central Texas, concerns about flash flooding have shifted to river flooding, as rain flows across saturated ground into river basins. There has been more than 9 inches of rain in parts of Blanco County, southwest of Austin. Much of that water has been flowing into the Blanco and San Marcos rivers. People have had to evacuate homes along the rivers and move to makeshift shelters. The rising Blanco River forced the closure of Interstate 35 earlier today south of Austin, when water covered the highway. The San Marcos River has reached record levels above 40 feet, beating the record set when it crested at just over 37 feet in late May of 1929. The rain is reducing the effects of a multi-year drought. Lake Travis, which supplies the city of Austin with water, is more than 50 percent full for the first time in years.
UPDATE Sunday 9:23 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning and Flash Flood Warning for Northeastern Guadalupe, Southeastern Hays and Southwestern Caldwell Counties until 11:45 a.m. Locations where flooding is occurring or expected include San Marcos, Luling, Kyle and Martindale. Flood water is moving down the San Marcos River from San Marcos to Luling, with the crest expected in Luling by Monday morning.
UPDATE Sunday 8:25 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for urban areas and small streams in West Central Hays County until 2:00 p.m. Sunday. Emergency Management in Wimberley reported flood just before 8:00 this morning. Flooding is also expected in Woodcreek. Flood water is moving down the Blanco River from Wimberley into Kyle.
Barton Creek is above flood stage at Loop 360. At 8:00 a.m. the creek was at 9.76 feet. Flood stage is 8 feet. It's expected to fall below flood stage by tomorrow.
UPDATE Sunday 7:50 a.m.: The rain fell in the right place for the Highland Lakes overnight. Since midnight, Lake Travis is up 6 feet, to more than 644 feet above sea level. 681 feet is full. The lake continues to rise about 1 inch every 15 minutes.
Lake Buchanan is up only about an inch since midnight.
UPDATE Sunday 6:45am: The City of San Marcos is experiencing severe flooding overnight and into this morning. Shelters there are filled with hundreds of residents fleeing the flood waters. Officials called several mandatory evacuations of low-lying areas around the Blanco River, which is seeing record flooding.
In Wimberley, that river hit an all-time record level of 40.21 feet (the gauge seemed to have malfunctioned or been destroyed, so the actual level may have risen even higher). Flood stage at that part of the Blanco River is 13 feet.
I-35 was closed earlier in both directions, when the Blanco River was covering the highway. It was reopened around 6:30 a.m. However, I-35 southbound has since been closed, due to flooding along the San Marcos River.
In Austin, more than 8,500 Austin Energy customer are without power this morning. There are widespread reports of fallen trees, minor flooding and other damage throughout Austin. There are about 250 low water crossings closed in the Austin area, as of this writing. Check ATXFloods.com for the latest closures.
The Red Cross has opened several shelters in Central and South Texas:
Working closely with Emergency Management and other community partners, the American Red Cross has opened shelters across the Central and South Texas Region for anyone impacted by severe weather and flash flooding. Anyone in need of shelter is encouraged to go to a shelter listed below or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Shelters are open at the following locations: RED CROSS SHELTERFirst Baptist Church - 631 S School St., Boerne, TX
Boerne Middle School North - 240 Johns Rd., Boerne, TXBoerne Middle School South – 10 Cascade Cavern, Boerne, TX
Cotulla High School - 1034 TX-97, Cotulla, TXCOMMUNITY SHELTERS
Camp Wood First Baptist Church - 813 Nueces St., Camp Wood, TX
First United Methodist Church, 105 N LBJ Drive, Johnson City, TX
Gem of the Hills 2233 Hwy 281 S, North Blanco, TX
EARLIER: The National Weather Service is reminding Central Texans to watch out for floods and tornados into Sunday as a storm system rolls through the region.
Record flooding is expected along the Blanco River in Wimberley.
The Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Central Texas counties including Travis, Hays and Williamson counties (a full list of counties can be found here) until 2:15 a.m. Sunday. A flash flood watch continues into Sunday evening. Updates can be found at the National Weather Service here.
Many low water crossings in the region are closed. Find the latest at ATXFloods.com.
Austin Energy had more than 31,000 customers without power at the peak of the outages.
Pedernales Electric Cooperatives also had several thousands customers in the dark.
The weather forced the cancelation of the outdoor commencement ceremony at the University of Texas. UT said that lightning had impeded the set-up for the outdoor event and that the threat of continuing inclement weather led to the university "regretfully" to cancel the ceremony.
UT said convocations at individual colleges and school proceeded as planned Saturday.