Lake Travis forecast for historic flooding, officials say

Forecast calls for lake levels not seen since 1991's Christmas Flood

October 17, 2018 - 2:17 pm

AUSTIN (KJCE) -- Lake Travis is continuing to rise, as a historic flooding event continues to build across the Highland Lakes chain.

Lower Colorado River Authority General Manager Phil Wilson says the lake is forecast to rise to a level somewhere between 705 and 710 feet by Friday, possibly even challenging the all-time record high of 710.44 feet recorded during the Christmas Flood of December 1991.

Mansfield Dam's spillway is at 714 feet, at which point any additional water would flow uncontrolled into Lake Austin.

"This is a historic flood," Wilson said. Lake Travis has risen 21 feet since noon on Tuesday, and is already at the sixth highest level on record. Just shy of 700 feet puts the lake at 132 percent of its "full" capacity of 681 feet.

At 700 feet, many homes in the Graveyard Point area of Lakeway are flooded, with some flooded up to their roofs in up to 12 feet of water. A crest of 710 feet would significantly affect hundreds of homes in the area.

Officials say residents with interests along the lake - and downstream along the Colorado River - need to be aware of changing conditions as water is moved through the watershed.

Upstream at Lake Buchanan, officials are having to open additional flood gates as the lake is full at 1,018 feet and has no overflow flood pool like Lake Travis does. Therefore, officials say, water must be released downstream to protect Buchanan Dam. Rainfall continues in the northwest portion of the Hill Country, which is flowing into Buchanan, officials say.

Four floodgates are currently opened at Mansfield Dam, and officials say they expect to have to open four additional floodgates in the next 24 hours. That would set a record for Mansfield Dam, where the the previous record was six gates in 1957 when Lake Travis rose to 707.38 feet. The dam has a total of 24 gates.

Wilson says that Lake Travis has captured more water in the last week than the City of Austin typically uses in four years.

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