UPDATE: National Weather Service issues new flash flood watch for Austin Metro

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Update: 10:16 p.m. Oct. 23

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for several Central Texas counties from 1 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 24. The watch area includes Travis, Williamson, Hays and Comal counties.

The NWS said rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches can be expected, with some areas receiving 4 inches in the Hill Country and Austin Metro west of I-35. The rain is predicted to end by Thursday with warmer temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast, according to the NWS.

Update: 12:23 p.m. Oct. 23

Barring any severe weather events, Austin officials expect the boil water notice to end in a “handful of days” according to a city spokesperson.

Earlier in the day, Travis County emergency management officials estimated the boil water notice to last between 10-14 days. Bryce Bencivengo, spokesperson for the city of Austin, said although the city is planning for the worst, on-the-ground reports say the notice will last much shorter.

Bencivengo would not get more specific on the timeline; however, he said severe weather events could set that timeline back and that the storm expected to hit the area on Wednesday was a “big variable.”

Bencivengo continued to urge the public to cut back on its water usage and said to expect conservation mandates to last beyond the boil water notice.
Christopher Neely provided this update.

Original post

Travis County Chief Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Carter told the Commissioners Court the boil water notice for the city of Austin could last up to two weeks.

“We aren’t necessarily at a water shortage,” Carter said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We have to take an extra step in order for the water to be safe to drink. Our initial estimate is that this situation could go on for 10-14 days, as the water system tries to settle.”

Carter said roughly 880,000 Austin residents are affected by the notice.

Austin residents have been asked to reduce its water usage. Any water used for consumption from the tap needs to be brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes to be considered safe.

Other information about the notice is available here.

Declaration backed by commissioners

Commissioners Court approved the disaster declaration by County Judge Sarah Eckhardt last week. A unanimous vote also transferred $100,000 earmarked for future disaster relief.

Travis Gatlin, Travis County budget director, said the money will be used if needed. Gatlin said there isn’t a current plan or need for it, but with more rain in the forecast, the county is being proactive in case funds are needed.

Gates closing northwest of Lake Travis

All floodgates at Buchanan Dam are closed, according to an LCRA update. Flood operations continue at Inks, Wirtz, Starcke, Mansfield and Tom Miller dams. If conditions remain the same, LCRA said it could close the floodgates at Wirtz and Starcke later in the week. The National Weather Service said measurable rain is in the forecast the next couple days in the Hill Country and Austin.

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Joe Warner
Joe Warner is managing editor of the nine Austin-Central Texas editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as senior editor of the flagship Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto newspaper. He came to Central Texas from Metro Detroit, where he was editor and general manager of several daily and weekly publications. He is the former president of the Michigan Press Association and was on the MPA board of directors for nine years.
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