That Storm Last Friday Was Bad, But It Could Have Been Much Worse

May 6, 2019

A powerful storm dumped up to 7 inches of rain in parts of Central Texas on Friday and could be responsible for up to four deaths in the region. But, in one sense, Austin "got lucky," the city's floodplain administrator says: The storm caused much less neighborhood flooding than other recent heavy rainfalls.  

“This storm moved through the area somewhat fast,” says Kevin Shunk, the floodplain administrator. “One area did not see the rain over and over again. When ... you get a lot of rain that happens in the same area, that’s where you can generate some floods.”

One area where the rain remained relatively localized was Williamson Creek. Floodwaters on the creek were the fourth highest ever recorded in the Oak Hill area.

“But,” Shunk says, “that doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire stream saw record flows. It can happen in one area of the stream, but not along the entire stream.”

The city says severe storms are now more likely to happen in Austin than previously thought – something climate scientists have been warning the public about for years.

To be better prepared for storms, Austin is in the process of overhauling its land development code, changing drainage rules and updating floodplain maps. 

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