AUSTIN (KXAN) — A massive, slow moving storm system brought tornadoes and 3-7 more inches of rain to Central Texas on Memorial Day. The torrential rain in Austin caused the worst flood on Shoal Creek since the Memorial Day flood of 1981–34 years ago. The 1981 flood killed 13 people. This Memorial Day flood on Shoal Creek was not deadly in Austin, but water flooded businesses on Lamar, and one man was rescued as he clung to a power pole at House Park stadium.
Eight tornadoes were reported across Central Texas, with two funnel clouds sighted in Georgetown. Read about confirmed tornadoes over the Memorial Day weekend in our weather blog.
The rainfall comes after deadly flooding late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, sending even more area rivers above flood stage. Numerous creeks and rivers will remain under flood warnings Tuesday, but most flooding is forecast to be of minor to moderate severity, meaning homes are not expected to be threatened. Flooding in the Hill Country forced flood gate operations on Wirtz and Starcke Dams at Lake LBJ and Marble Falls. All the flood water was being captured by Lake Travis–drought stricken for years, but filling up once again. The lake has risen 32 feet in May, is now less than 15 ft. below normal, and it is more than half full.
The exception is flooding occurring along the Colorado River below Austin. Flooding on the river below Austin could threaten the lowest homes along the river all the way to La Grange. In Bastrop, the city park will flood. Subdivisions that will likely see flooding over the coming days include Doty River, Pecan Shores, Hidden Shores Estate and Fritsch Auf.
While the Blanco River saw another rise above flood stage Monday night, it was insignificant compared to the unprecedented 40 ft. flood wave that swept homes and lives away early Sunday. There has been one confirmed fatality, but as many as a dozen people, including two families, are still reported missing. Some are feared dead.
Monday marked the 22nd consecutive day with rainfall in the KXAN viewing area. In Austin, Camp Mabry received a record 5.20 inches of rain Monday, make the monthly total 16.72 inches–an all-time May record, topping the record from 1895. The extended rainfall period has created saturated soils, leading to quicker flash flooding.
Expect patches of dense morning fog today leading into the return of afternoon sun. Please continue to avoid flooded roads, as heavy rainfall has created dangerous conditions.
Varying rain chances are expected to continue through at least the next week, as a continuing series of upper level disturbances track from the western United States toward Texas, tapping into a tropical jet stream from the Pacific and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The good news is that rain chances are minimal today and Wednesday. Conditions will be very warm and muggy, but this will give people in the area a chance to start cleaning up storm and flood damage from Memorial Day weekend. An afternoon isolated thunderstorm is still possible.
This weather pattern is showing signs of a major change in about a week. Drier and warmer conditions are forecast to return next week.
Stay tuned to the KXAN First Warning Weather team for the latest on this stormy weather pattern. Also, make sure to download the free KXAN Weather App on your smartphone for storm tracking and up to date hour-by-hour forecasts. When approaching a flooded roadway in a vehicle, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
Severe storm season continues through the month of May, which is why every family, school, and business should have a NOAA Weather Radio. KXAN is partnering with Austin area H-E-B and Academy stores to make the radios available for a discounted price. Click here for more information.