Wet weather pattern brings flooding, beneficial rain

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A FLASH FLOOD WATCH is in effect for all of Central Texas until 7 p.m. this evening.

After a period of steady light rain through the day Tuesday, heavier, periods of very heavy thunderstorms are expected from late-morning through the afternoon today.

The KXAN high-resolution forecast model is predicting significant rain during this period in the I-35 corridor — and also, at last, over the Highland Lakes. Widespread rain totals of 1-3 inches are predicted today with isolated totals of 6-8 inches possible. The soil is already soaked across much of the area from previous rain over the past two weeks, so runoff and flash flooding will come quickly.

A wet month of May is taking shape across Central Texas, which can likely be attributed to the observed El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific. As of Tuesday night, Camp Mabry has already observed 4.81 inches of rain — more than we usually receive during the entire month, which is usually our wettest month of the year.

El Niño is a pattern of warmer ocean surface waters in the Equatorial East Pacific, which alters global weather patterns and typically leads to more rain in Texas.

The heaviest rain totals have thus far fallen east of Interstate 35 over the past two weeks, with some areas of Bastrop and Lee counties receiving over 10 inches of rain during the period. Low water crossings in the area are still closed, so use caution on the roadways.

Though everyone in Central Texas needs drought-busting rain, areas that need it most are in the Hill Country and Highland Lakes. Even as the “soil moisture” drought has been eliminated along- and east of the interstate, much of the Hill Country remains in severe to extreme drought levels.

Our Highland Lakes remain significantly below their monthly averages, though a slow and steady rise in the level of Lake Travis through this wet spring has finally pushed the lake above 630 feet elevation — potentially leading to the reopening of a public boat ramp in the coming days.

With the potential of flash flooding escalating overnight Tuesday through the day Wednesday, stay tuned to KXAN and KXAN.com for forecast updates. You can always find your latest forecast and interactive radar on our KXAN Weather smartphone app.

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