Texas rain floods homes, closes roads, turns deadly

Flooded homes in Kingsland, TX. October 16, 2018. (Photo: Sara Howard via WXAN-TV)

Days of steady, heavy rain have led to record rainfall and major flooding across central Texas. The Llano River rose from below its flood stage of 10 feet Monday morning to an incredible 40 feet 24 hours later, close to record level. The major overflowing of the river destroyed a section of the FM 2900 bridge in Kingsland, Texas and mandatory evacuations were ordered. This is one of the areas hit the hardest.

Flooding was also reported along the Colorado River near Austin, Texas. KXAN-TV tweeted this morning that Lake Buchanan is 97% full and rising, and Lake Travis is 128% full and also rising, so far reaching its sixth highest level on record. The station also reported several water rescues, and that up to four people so far may have died after being swept away by flood waters.

 Llano River stage and forecast as of 3 p.m. CDT on October 17.  (Source: NOAA)
Llano River stage and forecast as of 3 p.m. CDT on October 17. (Source: NOAA)

Dallas has also been drenched. According to the National Weather Service, the city has had its wettest autumn (September through November) on record – 23.31 inches, and it’s only halfway through the season. This month has been the second-rainiest October on record for Dallas at 10.62 inches as of last night.

The upper-atmospheric disturbance responsible for the flooding is expected to stick around for a few more days. While the Llano River is forecast to fall below flood stage by Thursday evening, more rain will drench saturated soils and could lead to other rivers rising.

The Texas Department of Transportation highway conditions map shows many road closures across the state due to flooding, including access ramps to routes along Interstate 10 near Junction. The following Interstate highway sections are also closed:

  • I-35 Frontage Road southbound between Somerset and Cassin Roads in San Antonio

  • I-30 Frontage Road eastbound and westbound from FM 35 to Hunt County line, just east of Rose City

Crops, especially cotton, might be at risk. According to this Texas A&M AgriLife Extension report, around 20,000 acres of cotton are planted each year in the region surrounding San Antonio. Other cotton fields could be damaged outside the Dallas-F.t Worth metroplex, as well as wheat, corn, and sorghum.

The National Cotton Council lists Texas as the top cotton-producing state in the country, with a three-year average production of almost 5.5 million bales of cotton for the years 2010 through 2012. This accounted for 25 percent of U.S. cotton production. It’s a $25 billion-per-year industry in the United States, employing over 200,000 people in total, according to a USDA report. An average of 65 percent of the U.S. cotton supply was exported.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.