Potential flooding in downtown Austin this Friday

Savana Dunning

Increased water levels from Lake Travis may create flooding in Austin on Friday.

The Highland Lakes, a chain of six lakes — created by dams on the Colorado River and including Lake Austin and Lake Travis — is experiencing historic flooding that is expected to increase over the next several days.

The water level in Lake Travis is expected to rise between five to 10 feet, which may lead to the opening of up to eight floodgates on Friday, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority’s website. The release of water from the lake by the gates will raise the Colorado River’s water level, potentially flooding areas downstream from Lake Travis, including Lake Austin and Ladybird Lake, according to KVUE.

The water in Lake Travis has risen 36 feet over the past week, according to KWTX. The LCRA, which manages the Highland Lakes, has already opened four floodgates on Mansfield Dam in Austin this Thursday to control this increase, which is the fifth highest increase in the lake’s water level in its history.

“They’ve never opened eight floodgates before, so it’s hard to tell what will happen at this point,” said Angel Flores, public information officer for Austin Travis County Emergency Operations. “It’s just a matter of being as prepared as we can.”

According to its website, the City of Austin’s Flood Warning System is expecting road closures, including the intersection of Cesar Chavez Street and Lamar Boulevard. The Barton Creek Greenbelt and Barton Springs are also closed until further notice, according to City of Austin Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, HSEM website.

For flooding updates, the HSEM and the LCRA update flooding conditions on their websites. Central Texas residents can also receive emergency phone alerts regarding recent and future flooding from WarnCentralTexas.org.