While area residents enjoyed a respite from rain during the weekend after 26 consecutive days and more than 9 inches of rain last month, concerns of flooding still remain, officials said.
Frank Patterson, McLennan County emergency management coordinator, said area dams — including at Lake Whitney, Lake Aquilla and Lake Waco — have opened their gates and continue to increase the flow of water into the Brazos River.
“At some point, they’ve got to release water because they’re taking on as much as they can,” he said.
Lake Waco is at an elevation of 478 feet, 16 feet above its normal level. Lake Whitney is at an elevation of 554 feet, 20 feet above its normal level.
Many of Lake Waco’s parks and boat ramps were forced to temporarily close because of those rising levels, and Jeff Boutwell, recreation business line manager at Lake Waco, told the Tribune-Herald last week that once the elevation does drop, it will take some time for water to recede from the roadways and camping areas that were flooded. Patterson said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased discharge from Lake Whitney to about 12,400 cubic feet per second Monday.
Lake Aquilla was releasing at 2,500 cf/s and Lake Waco at a rate of 8,800 cf/s Monday. Those rates may increase during the next few days, Patterson said.
“We will see an increased rise through the next day of the river level, as the new elevation discharges begin to hit us,” he said. “We’ve been communicating (with the Corps of Engineers) ever since it started to minimize the impact to our residents through this area.”
“They work with us the best way they can to keep it at that level without putting too much on us,” Patterson said.
Flooding in other areas continued to create problems during the weekend, including in Coryell County, where three people were reported missing Sunday after their vehicle allegedly was swept into the Leon River.
Coryell County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Joe Blakley said their vehicle was swept off a county road and into the river about 12 miles southeast of Gatesville.
They remained missing Monday evening.
Looking forward, National Weather Service Meteorologist Jesse Moore said the Waco area likely won’t see rain again for at least another seven days.
But the extended forecast still calls for above-normal precipitation for June, July and August, he said. The summer also may be cooler than average, he said.
Moore said the precipitation during the rest of the summer is not expected to be as heavy as the rain that poured over Central Texas during the past six weeks.
After so much rain, the humidity likely will bring an increase in the Texas mosquito population, AgriLife Extension Urban Entomologist Mike Merchant said in a press release Friday.
“Mosquito populations are booming throughout the state and will likely not go away anytime soon after all our rains and flooding,” he said. “Not all of the mosquitoes swarming us right now are likely to carry disease, but West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes are beginning to show up in traps.”
Merchant said insect repellent is the best defense against mosquitoes, and he advised residents to keep repellent at hand near doorways.
“Keeping repellent in your car is a very good idea too,” he said, adding that DEET repellents are among the most effective.
Staff writer Tommy Witherspoon contributed to this story.