As a powerful cold front charged through Texas from Monday into Tuesday, a deluge unfolded in the middle of the state. More than a foot of rain has fallen in some areas, resulting in severe flooding.
In Kingsland, about 60 miles northwest of Austin, a bridge collapsed Tuesday morning as waters rapidly rose to historic levels on the Llano River. Rising as swiftly as seven feet per hour, the river level hit 39.91 feet, the highest in 83 years and second highest on record, only trailing 41.5 feet in 1935.
At least one person has died in the torrents, according to KXAN, the NBC affiliate in Austin. A body was found in the Colorado River south of Kingsland, where the Llano and Colorado rivers converge.
So much water filled the Llano River that it caused the Colorado to flow backward.
“This is a very dangerous situation for people living within vulnerable areas along the Llano River. Seek higher ground immediately,” the National Weather Service said Tuesday morning.
As of Tuesday afternoon, water levels had begun to recede, but the Llano remained well above flood stage and was forecast to stay that way into Thursday.
Numerous areas in central Texas experienced flooding Tuesday, and several other rivers were predicted to reach major flood stage. In Austin, all recreational, commercial and navigational activities were banned on area lakes due to the high water, the Statesman reported.
Flooding in the region closed streets, forced high-water rescues, and required the opening of floodgates on several lakes and downstream evacuations.
While its intensity has lessened, rain remains in the forecast in central Texas for the next several days. An incoming disturbance may bring “a renewed flash flood threat along with additional river flooding or delayed falling of river levels,” the Weather Service said.
The cold front that set the stage for the flooding also spurred a dramatic drop in temperatures as it plunged south through Texas. On Monday, temperatures ranged from the 20s in the Texas Panhandle to around 90 in Brownsville at the southern tip.
“Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the temperature contrasts: Current heat index in Brownsville is 108 degrees, current wind chill in Amarillo is 28 degrees,” tweeted USA Today Weather.
After the front came through Brownsville, the temperature dropped 24 degrees in one hour.