A downed tree in a flooded low water crossing off Highway 290 in South Austin (KXAN Photo/Avery Travis) AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 140 roads and low water crossings around the Austin area were closed due to localized flooding by Thursday evening. Data from ATX Floods showed closures from […]
AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 140 roads and low water crossings around the Austin area were closed due to localized flooding by Thursday evening.
Data from ATX Floods showed closures from Llano to La Grange, along with a dozen more areas labeled for “caution.”
Kevin Shunk, the city’s floodplain administrator, said they keep a low water crossing “hot list.”
“That’s the places we know are going to flood when it rains this amount. That’s the first place we go to barricade things, and that’s really the primary place that we look when we start to get rainfall,” he said. “As rainfalls begins to persist and maybe gets heavier, that’s when we start to look at other areas.”
He noted more than 400 city roads could be flooded by a 100-year rainstorm.
- For an interactive look at where there are low water crossing closures, click here.
Shunk explained the Austin area doesn’t contain a lot of soil on top of rock. When multiple days of rain saturate the ground, that creates runoff into creeks and streams, which can eventually spill into roads.
“So, when the ground is dry, there’s not a lot of place to store water. When the ground is wet, there’s no place to store the water,” he said. “That’s how rainwater gets from the sky to the ground to the creeks very quickly here in Austin.”
He said runoff was just one of several ingredients, like moisture coming from the Gulf, that come together to give us the name ‘Flash Flood Alley.’
Shunk said the Watershed Protection staff has been working “non-stop” for the last two weeks to track localized flooding and deploy field teams to close certain hazardous roads.
According to ATX Floods, it only takes six inches of water to knock a person off their feet, and two feet of water can carry a car away.
Chrissy Robinson works at PAZ Veterinary South on Bee Cave Road. She said water has been rushing over the side street next to their office since Thursday morning. Her bigger concern, however, was the traffic safety because of the closure of Bee Cave Road.
“It took two to three times longer trying to circumvent all the traffic. You can tell people are very distracted and not paying attention to the road — screeching tires and things like that,” she said.
Robinson said she spent the morning calling clients to warn them about the closures and urging them to be extra careful with their pets, as other drivers were using the parking lot of their office to turn around.
“If you are out, I would suggest just leaving space between you and the car in front of you, because it can get dire.”