3:30 a.m. update: Governor Greg Abbott has declared Caldwell County a disaster area, according to officials with the Caldwell County office of emergency management.
“This declaration will be forwarded to FEMA for a Presidential Declaration,” the county office said in a statement. “The process will include inspection of damaged areas in the coming weeks.”
2:20 a.m. update: Minor and moderate flooding is happening at Onion Creek at U.S. 183, but this is not expected to impact homes along Onion Creek, the National Weather Service is reporting.
At 2 a.m., waters in the creek had risen to 18.3 feet, and the flood stage is 17 feet. The water is expected to rise to nearly 23.6 feet.
1:32 a.m. update: A flash flood warning is in effect for Travis County, central Hays County and northwestern Bastrop County until 5 a.m.
A band of heavy rain is rotating into eastern Travis County and northeastern Hays County, and people in those areas should expect to see 1 to 2 inches of rain from that band alone.
Up to 8 inches of rain have already fallen.
“Runoff will be rapid, and renewed flash flooding is expected to begin shortly,” the National Weather Service said in a statement.
In Smithville, firefighters assisted several people from their homes due to flood concerns, said police, who declined to share what street this was. No one was injured.
1 a.m. update: Power outages have been widespread throughout the Austin metro area, as Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pelt the region.
Currently, 12,500 Austin Energy customers are without power throughout the city.
The Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative reported 1,757 have lost power.
The Pedernales Electric Cooperative reported 1,229 of their customers are without power.
In Williamson County, an estimated 1,813 customers who get their electricity through Oncor have lost power.
Midnight update: Several of the Plum Creek dams’ spillways have begun to overflow directly into the creeks downstream of them, according to Caldwell County officials.
This will substantially increase the flow in smaller creeks downstream, officials said. If you live near one of these creeks, be aware of its flow and seek high ground before it floods.
The Plum Creek Conservation District has more information about the creek on its website.
Experts are discouraging people from driving in Caldwell, Bastrop, southeastern Hays, northeastern Guadalupe, Lee and Fayette counties. There is a flash flood warning in effect for these areas until 4:45 a.m.
“Rainfall rates were increasing in the line of heavy rains,” the National Weather Service said in a recent alert. “Rivers and streams are running high. … This heavy rain will aggravate the flooding overnight, especially in Bastrop and Caldwell counties where numerous recent or ongoing water rescues have occurred.”
Caldwell County officials rescued 12 people due to flood waters on Saturday — eight from homes and six from vehicles. At 9:52 p.m., crews rescued eight people and three pets by boat from several homes on Old Colony Line Road. At least one of the homes was taking on water at the time, according to officials with the Caldwell County office of emergency management.
10:20 p.m. update: Austin Fire Department is reporting that it’s had a busy night.
The latest numbers, tweeted out by the agency: 112 wires down or arcing; 68 fire alarm activations and 32 public assists; most of which involved downed trees.
It also responded to 6 fire calls, including the Franklin Barbecue blaze. Four of the calls involved no fires, but only electrical issues.
9:50 p.m. update: Two rescues from the high water swirling through Caldwell County have been resolved without injuries, Caldwell County Emergency Management Coordinator Martin Ritchey said.
The first, at a low-water crossing near Lytton Springs, ended when a person stuck in a car was able to get himself out of danger, Ritchey said.
The second was resolved when county responders assisted a motorist whose car had become stranded in Plum Creek, he said. Ritchey said a Texas Department of Transportation barricade blocking the crossing had blown over.
Ritchey said 92 low water crossings were closed across Caldwell County, and advised drivers to avoid driving during the night if possible.
9:15 p.m. update: The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for several counties south and east of Austin, and reported two active water rescues in process in Caldwell County.
Parts of Bastrop, Caldwell, Fayette, Guadalupe, Hays and Lee counties were placed under a flood warning, said Yvette Benavides, a meteorologist with the weather service. Nearly all of Bastrop and Caldwell counties were placed in the warning area. She said the designation means flooding is already occurring in those areas.
Although the warning is set to expire at 4:45 a.m. Sunday, Benavides said the area remains under a flood watch through Thursday, and that additional warnings could be issued.
Benavides said Caldwell County authorities were reporting two water rescues Saturday evening, one outside of Lytton Springs, in the northeastern part of the county, and the other north of Luling. She said she had no other details of the incidents.
The forecast calls for Austin to receive another 8-15 inches of rain over the next few days, with accumulations of up to 20 inches in communities east of Interstate 35, she said.
While winds are expected to diminish from gusts that reached as high as 48 mph on Saturday, they were still predicted to remain up to 30 or 40 mph on Sunday, Benavides said.
9 p.m. update: Austin emergency responders reported a large number of fallen trees and power outages Saturday evening, as the outer edges of Hurricane Harvey gusted across the city.
“It’s pretty much all over town,” said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Thayer Smith. “I don’t have a total number, but it’s a lot.”
He said the department had been responding to a steady stream of about 10 to 15 calls an hour. Although none was serious, many involved fallen trees and branches pulling down power lines, he said.
By Saturday night, Austin Energy was reporting 124 active outages across the city, with 8,700 customers affected.
Austin police reported a half-dozen roadways temporarily closed or narrowed throughout the day due to fallen trees or limbs.
The National Weather Service said wind gusts reached upwards of 50 miles per hour at the airport, but were expected to steadily diminish in intensity overnight Saturday into Sunday.
8:30 p.m. update: DeTar Hospital Navarro in Victoria is transferring 18 patients to Seton Medical Center Austin. The Victoria hospital has no water and the patients will be arriving around midnight, said Seton spokeswoman Shahreen Abedin.
6:30 p.m. update: Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr has banned all boating and recreational uses of all waterways within the city of Austin, effective immediately.
The affected waterways include all Austin creeks, including Barton Creek, Bull Creek, Lady Bird Lake, the entirety of Lake Austin from Mansfield Dam to Tom Miller Dam, and the Colorado River downstream of Longhorn Dam.
The ban remains in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday.
5:30 p.m. update: The National Weather Service said that Tropical Storm Harvey should remain stalled near Cuero in DeWitt County overnight. Sustained winds measured at 65 mph are still being felt near the storm’s center.
Forecasters believe Harvey will loop through the southern end of Central Texas through Wednesday. During that time, forecasters expect 8 to 12 inches of rain to fall in Austin, according to the latest update from the weather service.
Travis and Williamson counties remain under a flash flood watch. Hays County is under a tropical storm warning. Several flood warning have also been issued for areas near rivers and creeks. Onion Creek in Travis County is under flood warning, the weather service said.
4:30 p.m. update: Travis County and Austin emergency responders said Saturday afternoon they’re closely monitoring local streams and rivers as rain continues to fall.
Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said that no plans have been made for evacuations, but that could change suddenly if Tropical Storm Harvey takes a turn for the worst and flash flooding begins occurring. A flood warning remains in effect for Onion Creek, but no flooding has occurred.
Travis County and Austin officials briefed the media Saturday afternoon. They said they are prepared for multiple days of drenching rain that could create flash floods as Tropical Storm Harvey remains in the area. The center of the storm remained just northwest of Cuero at 3:40 p.m.
Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Juan Ortiz said fewer than 200 people are in the only shelter opened so far in the city, the Delco Center. Ortiz said more shelters would be opened if the state requests it.
Ortiz said it is impossible at this time to gauge how many evacuees were in Austin because most are likely staying in hotels or at friends and family members’ homes. Ortiz said he has family from Corpus Christi who are staying in his home over the weekend.
“I’m running my own shelter with residents and pets at my house,” Ortiz said.
Top officials from the Travis County sheriff’s office, county Transportation and Natural Resources Department, Austin Fire Department and others were on hand to let residents know that their departments stand at the ready. Mayor Steve Adler renewed calls for people to donate to the Red Cross and the county judge urged residents to “stay home.”
“Read a book, watch a movie,” Eckhardt said. “Stay safe.”
2:45 p.m. update: Meteorologists at the National Weather Service’s office in New Braunfels said that Tropical Storm Harvey might soon transition from a “wind event” to a “rain event.”
What it means is that as the storm becomes stalled out, they are now starting to worry more about the accumulation of rain and how that might trigger widespread flooding. Areas closer the the Gulf Coast could face-flood related devastation. Models are showing major flooding along the San Marcos, Brazos, Guadalupe, Colorado and Brazos rivers, the weather service said.
“As we lose the wind, we gain the rain,” meteorologist Paul Yura said.
One person has been confirmed killed in the storm that Yura said is truly unique for its intensity yet slow movement.
“I, in my career, have never worked an event that has had this threat of flooding for so long,” Yura said.
Tropical storm force winds are still occurring near the center of Harvey, which is near Cuero. But Yura, in a briefing to the media and emergency management officials, said the outer bands of the storm are creating some concerns.
Those outside arms of the storm carry the heaviest rains. The largest arm at the back of the storm was east of Houston, but its back end was still pulling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, Yura said.
Yura also said they are worried about overnight rains. Systems like Harvey have more intense rainfalls after sundown.
“We are really going to have to be on alert for a night-time core event,” Yura said. “That is our fear right now. I hope it doesn’t happen, but history shows that it happens often.”
1:15 p.m. update: There have been no confirmed fatalities so far from Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a briefing to reporters Saturday.
Abbott has asked the federal government to add 20 more Texas counties to the federal disaster area declared because of Hurricane Harvey.
The storm has been downgraded to a tropical storm.
In a briefing with the media, Abbott said that the total area in the disaster area is now 50 counties along the Gulf Coast and further inland.
Abbott said he recently learned that the county judge in Fort Bend County has issued a mandatory evacuation for areas near the San Bernard River and voluntary evacuations for areas near the Brazos River.
“This is one of the foremost regions in state of Texas that already has flooding and I anticipate the flooding to get worse,” Abbott said.
12:55 p.m. update: Hurricane Harvey is now Tropical Storm Harvey.
The National Weather Service has downgraded the storm as it continues to weaken as it moves inland.
12:40 p.m. update: Parts of Guadalupe County are under a voluntary evacuation as continued rains threaten to push the Guadalupe and San Marcos rivers into flood stage.
Guadalupe County Judge Kyle Kutscher issued voluntary evacuations for homes and campgrounds along the two rivers as well as Cibolo Creek and Geronimo Creek, according to the county’s office of emergency management.
The National Weather Service has projected that both rivers will face major flooding as Hurricane Harvey continues to drench Texas.
Meanwhile in Austin, where 3.26 inches of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours near downtown, city officials announced that they will close Barton Springs pool at 4 p.m. Officials have prepared the pool for possible flooding.
According to Austin Energy, the city’s electrical grid is seeing 91 power outages affecting 1,800 customers. The utility has 13 crews working Saturday with the possibility of adding more, if needed, officials said.
11:30 a.m. update: The center of Hurricane Harvey is now positioned over DeWitt County and the storm continues to slow in its trek inland.
Sustained winds in the storm have been measured at about 75 mph, which is classified as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the latest update from the National Weather Service.
Heavier bands of the storm are expected to wrap into the Austin area and the Hill Country on Saturday, bringing with them threats of heavy rainfall and tornadoes. Wind could gust between 30 and 50 mph are expected, the weather service said.
Over the next few hours, Harvey should move into Gonzales County. It will continue to slow and its winds should weaken in its center, the weather service said.
The greatest danger in the storm remains east of Interstate 35 and Interstate 37.
8:30 a.m. update: The Austin area will likely see steady rain throughout the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
Rain bands should cause alternating periods of light and heavy rain, creating flooding potential, said meteorologist Cory Van Pelt.
The effects of Hurricane Harvey on Austin will depend on where it travels, Van Pelt said. Right now, the hurricane is just entering DeWitt County near the Gulf Coast.
“It’ll just wander around for a couple days, exactly where it wanders to we’re not positive yet,” Van Pelt said.
So far, the lower Colorado River basin and south of it have received the highest rainfall totals, according to the Lower Colorado River Authorit’s Hydromet database.
The Colorado River at Bastrop gauge has recorded 2.78 inches in the past six hours. A La Grange gauge has recorded 4.51 inches in the past six hours.
Rainfall totals in the Austin area and northwest are much lower. A Barton Creek at Loop 360 gauge registered 1.43 inches in the past six hours, and a Lake Austin at Bunny Run Farm gauge registered 1.25 inches, according to LCRA.
Earlier: As Hurricane Harvey weakens and slows near the Gulf Coast, the Austin area could see between 5 to 15 inches of rain through Wednesday, forecasters say, with parts of Central Texas east of Interstate 35 possibly seeing up to 20 inches.
Isolated higher totals of more than 30 inches are possible near and south of the Interstate 10 corridor.
Rain bands from Harvey reached the Austin area around 4 a.m. Saturday.
Forecasters warn that small shifts in the forecast track of Harvey and where it stalls this weekend into early next week will result in very large differences in rainfall totals.
The five-county Central Texas region, including Travis, Hays, Bastrop, Williamson and Caldwell counties, is under a flash flood watch through Tuesday night.
Damaging winds leading to power and communications outages are possible east of I-35 and south of I-10.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for counties just outside the Tropical Storm Warning area, including Austin, for winds between 25 to 39 mph.
In Austin, 20 to 30 mph winds with gusts over 35 miles per hour are expected in rain bands.
The area now under a tropical storm warning, including the San Marcos, New Braunfels and San Antonio areas, will see even faster winds of 35 to 50 mph per hour in rain bands. Damage to trees and power lines are possible, which could cause scattered power outages.
An urban and small stream flood advisory has been issued until 9:30 a.m. for Travis, Bastrop, Hays, Caldwell and Guadalupe counties.
Forecasters say it’s likely that catastrophic main stem river flooding will last throughout next week east of I-35 and I-37 in the Colorado, Guadalupe and San Antonio river basins.
There is also a low risk of brief tornadoes east of I-35 and I-37. The weather service has issued a tornado watch for Fayette, Lavaca and Lee counties until 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Hurricane Harvey is expected to stall or move very slowly over eastern parts of South Central Texas before swinging back south toward the Gulf Coast on Sunday into early next week, according to the service.