GLEN ROSE – Residents of Somervell, Hood and Erath Counties have yet to experience any threat of severe over the week. Those residents have, however, experienced rain – and lots of it. No object-sized hail fell, nor were tornadoes ever reported in the area. But when the rain started falling, it fell in buckets – very, very large buckets.
With the ground already saturated, both the Paluxy and Brazos Rivers began to rise exponentially. The rise prompted several sets of watches and warnings to be issued for Somervell County by the National Weather Service in Fort Worth over the course of Tuesday and into Wednesday.
A Flash Flood Watch for Somervell County will remain in effect until Thursday evening and the Brazos River is not expected to fall back below the flood line until Thursday after midnight, per two separate NWS releases issued at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the NWS gauge in the Brazos River reported a water level of 32.24 feet in Somervell County – over three feet deeper than the flood line.
“At 32 feet, moderate flooding will occur both upstream and downstream from the gauge,” the Flood Watch stated. “Farm and ranch land, as well as several access and rural roads near the river, will be under water.”
Glen Rose resident, Janice Lewis and her husband owned and operated Cedars on the Brazos – or the “Garden Spot” as longtime locals know it – for approximately 20 years and Lewis said this week’s flooding is almost at that “100 years stage.”
“I’ve been here 20 years and have never seen it this high,” said Lewis from the Bed & Breakfast located at 2920 CR 413. “The river is almost at the 100 years stage and you just don’t expect water this high.”
Lewis said the Brazos is currently stretching out close to 100 yards farther than under normal conditions.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday afternoon that he will be visiting the Hood County Emergency Operations Center in Granbury on Thursday afternoon. After he receives a briefing on the current situation of a handful of the 31 counties across the state he declared to be in a State of Disaster, the Gov. will hold a 4:30 p.m. press conference.
“As our state continues to face waves of severe weather and potential flooding, it is crucial that Texans remain vigilant and heed warnings and any evacuation notices from local officials in their areas,” Abbott said. “The State of Texas stands ready to assist all counties affected by severe weather and has dedicated the resources necessary to ensure the safety of those at risk. I would like to thank the first responders who have rescued residents from rising waters and ask all Texans to keep those affected in their thoughts and prayers.”
Although Erath and Hood Counties were among the 31 counties in Gov. Abbott's declaration, Somervell County was not as of 5:45 p.m., Wednesday, June 1.
The full list of counties included in Abbott's original declaration include Austin, Bandera, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Coleman, Colorado, Erath, Fayette, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Kleberg, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Lubbock, Montgomery, Palo Pinto, Parker, Polk, Robertson, San Jacinto, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington and Wharton Counties
How it unfolded
The worst of the flooding conditions, began shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 31. Roads were being closed, shelter being sought and emergency crews were on standby.
At 8:21 p.m., the NWS issued a Flood Warning for areas located along the Brazos River. The river had, at that time, risen to 26.87 feet, which was 5.93 feet deeper than it was just four hours earlier. The river was quickly approaching the 29-foot flood stage, according to the NWS.
"The river should rise above flood stage by Wednesday after midnight and continue to rise to a crest near 29 feet by Wednesday morning," the official watch stated. "The river should fall below flood stage by late Wednesday morning. [...] At 29 feet, minor flooding can be expected. Recreational areas near the river will be affected. Several rural roads will begin to flood. Farm and ranch lands near the river will begin to flood."
A little over two hours later at 10:35 p.m., the NWS re-issued a Flash Flood Watch for Somervell scheduled to expire Thursday morning at 7 a.m.
The NWS reported that areas within the affected counties had already received 2-3 inches of rain on Tuesday alone and that widespread rainfall totals of between 3-5 inches – and upwards of 6 inches –could be expected for the area through Friday.
"Several rounds of showers and thunderstorms are expected across north and central Texas through much of the week," the warning stated. "[...] Conditions will be tropical-like with thunderstorms producing very heavy rainfall in short periods of time. Many areas have already received heavy rainfall over the last week and additional rainfall is likely to cause flooding."
"A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions are favorable for heavy rain which may lead to flash flooding," the NWS preparedness section reads. "You should monitor the latest forecasts from the National Weather Service and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued for your area."
By 7:13 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Brazos River had reached its deepest reported level, 32.29 feet, according to the NWS. The water level was at the time 3.29 feet above the 29-foot flood stage.
"Moderate flooding is occurring and moderate flooding is forecasted," the warning reads. "[...] The river will continue rising to a crest near 33.5 feet by Wednesday morning. The river should fall below flood stage Wednesday night.
"At 5:59 a.m. CDT, local law enforcement reported that several county roads remained barricaded across the area from heavy rains which occurred yesterday. Lingering showers across this area will result in continued excessive runoff and flooding. [...] Turn around; don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.”
At approximately noon on Wednesday, the Brazos River Authority reported that the "streamflow in the Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake at the Dennis gauge is measuring 41,900 cubic feet per second. With the release from Possum Kingdom Lake being 19,600 CFS, the two gate release is contributing about 47 percent of the water currently being measured at the Dennis gauge – the remainder is natural runoff from rain events downstream of Possum Kingdom."
BRA officials originally thought a third gate at Possum Kingdom Lake was going to be opened by Tuesday evening, but the conditions did not allow for that to happen.
"The BRA plans to hold off opening the 3rd gate as long as possible to allow natural runoff from rainfall to recede," according to the BRA's Facebook. "The 3rd gate will not be opened today, June 1, unless significant rainfall occurs upstream or around Possum Kingdom Lake."
After reaching as high a release of 59,000 CFS from DeCordova Bend Dam on Lake Granbury, the BRA had reduced the outward flow to 46,800 CFS by noon Wednesday.
Weatherunderground.com forecast indicate that showers will continue through Thursday, Friday and into Saturday, with areas receiving as much as two to three inches of rain and the heavier isolated areas upwards of four inches.
Travis M. Smith, @travis5mith