While rainfall levels were not expected to be a repeat of the deluge from earlier this month, crews across the region were on standby with flood barricades in preparation for another soaking Wednesday night.
The showers, which had been crawling across Central Texas for most of the afternoon, reached the Austin area about 7 p.m. and dropped up to 0.4 inches of rain in an hour, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority. Rain and chances for severe thunderstorms continued overnight with a projected total rainfall between 1 and 3 inches and 5 inches in some isolated areas after midnight, the National Weather Service said.
Emergency management officials monitored weather radars throughout the day Wednesday as crews set up barricades at creeks and roads prone to flooding. First responders, including crews with Austin watershed protection and all members of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office swift water rescue team, were on call Wednesday night, officials said. Austin and Williamson and Hays counties were also expected to post any flooded roadways on their emergency management websites.
“As far as the difference with this storm to, say, a few weeks ago, it is more saturated now,” said Kevin Shunk, floodplain administrator for the city of Austin. “What rain does fall, it will not soak into the ground.”
Bob Rose, meteorologist with the authority, said that hail, damaging winds and dangerous lightning were also possible.
A cold front, slated to arrive in the area late Thursday morning, interacted with upper-air disturbances along with moist tropical air to dump the latest round of rain. A flash flood watch was in place until noon Thursday.
“Once the front starts to come through, as of (Thursday) afternoon, we will be clearing up,” said service forecaster Orlando Bermudez.
Forecasters were not expecting rainfall anywhere near what the region saw about two weeks ago, when up to a foot of rain surprised the region. Williamson Creek flooded South Austin homes and coated roads with mud. Sunset Valley residents were evacuated while officers conducted a harrowing rescue of two women whose car was swept away by flood waters.
“We have barricades out at every low water crossing and then we have one officer staying a little later than normal and three people who are on standby,” Richard Andreucci, spokesman for the Sunset Valley Police Department, said Wednesday. “We have made extra preparations.”
Rain should clear out and temperatures should start cooling in time for Halloween celebrators Thursday night. Overnight lows could fall into the high 40s. The sun will return for the weekend with warm temperatures into the 70s during the day and 50s at night, according to the service.