Thunderstorms dumped more unwanted rain across the Dallas-Fort Worth area early Friday, causing major flooding that covered roadways, triggered high-water rescues and added more water to already-full lakes.
With another round of thunderstorms expected overnight, more flooding is likely.
“I'm sure somebody will see flooding,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bishop. “I doubt it will be in the same place.”
Friday’s flooding caused roadways to be shut down or clogged with traffic across the Metroplex, from Johnson County to Mansfield to west Dallas, where hundreds of vehicles were brought to a standstill by impassable water at Loop 12 between Interstate 30 and Irving Boulevard.
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The flash floods had swift-water rescue teams out in full force, including in Cleburne and Dallas. There were more than 200 rescues in Dallas alone, authorities said.
Officials who oversee lakes in North Texas were especially worried about more rainfall.
Two flood gates were opened Friday morning at Possum Kingdom Lake, raising concerns about downstream flooding from the Brazos River in Parker County, where much of the Horseshoe Bend neighborhood was already underwater.
Lake Grapevine, which was 22.66 feet above capacity Friday afternoon, was expected to pour over the spillway for the first time since 1990, and roads around the lake were being closed.
Joe Pool Lake, which rose to almost 15 feet above capacity, was using its spillway for the first time on Friday.
Lake Bridgeport and Eagle Mountain Lake, two of the Tarrant Regional Water District’s lakes, were above the flood stage and closed to boats.
“It’s going to be nip and tuck over the next 24 hours,” said David Marshall, the Tarrant Regional Water District’s director of engineering and operations support.
Sitting on top of DFW
Thursday night’s storm system pretty much sat on top of the Metroplex until Friday morning and it showed with the rainfall totals, which ranged from almost 4 inches on Trinity Boulevard in east Fort Worth to 5.75 inches in Dallas to 7 inches in Garland.
Dallas-Fort Worth is a “bad place for it to stall,” said Jessie Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. “The effects are magnified because of all the concrete … water flows off more quickly and causes bigger problems.”
Dallas/Fort Worth Airport received 3.76 inches of rain, bringing the total to 16.07 inches for the month and making it the wettest May on record.
It’s the same story across Texas, where 35 trillion gallons of rain has fallen this month, which is enough to cover the state in 8 inches of water, according to the National Weather Service.
Only a small portion of Texas remains in drought, and no part of the state is in the three worst categories (severe, extreme and exceptional), according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.
The flooding was so widespread early Friday in the Metroplex that Moore said, “It’s easier to say where it’s not flooding.”
The Trinity River was flowing over its banks in Dallas and was expected to reach 43 feet, said Moore, which “is a major flood at that point.”
Texas Department of Transportation officials said the Loop 12 area that is underwater will be closed for four to five days so workers can pump out the estimated 200,000 gallons of water now covering the roadway.
The estimated time the road will be closed is based on how long it took to clear the intersection the last time it flooded like this about 25 years ago, said TxDOT spokesman Tony Hartzel.
The flooding occurred after a “sump area” that normally collects runoff from the highway became overfilled, leaving nowhere for the water to go, he said.
In Mansfield, Texas 360 was closed at Holland Road because of high water.
Flooding went well beyond the roads, however. Some golf courses, including Waterchase just off Interstate 30 in east Fort Worth, were turned into lakes.
Johnson County rescues
In Cleburne, which received 4.42 inches of rain, East Buffalo Creek gushed from its banks and sent rushing sheets of water over streets and up to the door stoops of many homes, said Mayor Scott Cain.
No houses took in water, though about 30 people stranded in their homes were picked up by rescue teams, said Cleburne Fire Chief Clint Ishmael.
U.S. Business 67, the city’s main thoroughfare, was shut down for several hours on the east side of Cleburne, and two men in their 20s riding in a Jeep tried to navigate through floodwaters that turned out to be window high, Ishmael said.
The National Guard, using a large truck that can drive safely through water up to 4-feet deep, rescued the two men. The state had assigned four such trucks and 15 reservists to Cleburne on Sunday to help with flash flooding, and they’ve stayed through the week.
Floodwaters forced the closing of more than 40 roads and required at least 20 rescues in Johnson County, said Jamie Moore, the county emergency management coordinator.
Friday’s flooding was the worst that longtime residents had seen in a long while.
“We had flooding on the east side of our community that I haven’t seen the likes of since the 1970s,” Cain said. “One thing’s for sure: people in North Texas who have been praying for rain have done a good job. Now we need them to stop.”
Keeping an eye on lakes
Officials with the Tarrant Regional Water District closed Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Bridgeport to boat traffic, saying lake levels are high enough that wakes could impact a few low-lying homes around the lakes.
TRWD was releasing water from Lake Bridgeport, which may cause minor flooding in the southern end of the city of Bridgeport and cover some county roads with water.
Water in Lake Bridgeport was about a foot-and-a-half below the U.S. 380 bridge. TRWD officials were trying to keep water from running over the bridge and to prevent flooding Texas 114 further downstream.
“It’s a delicate balancing act,” said Marshall, with the TRWD. “It all depends. If there is another 4 inches of rain we may not be able to keep it from flooding houses. … The flood control storage everywhere is just at a max.”
Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates flood control lakes — including Grapevine, Benbrook, Joe Pool, Lewisville and Ray Roberts — said they are monitoring inflows and lake elevations to help prevent further flooding.
Any more rainfall in the Ray Roberts watershed could trigger using the spillway for the first time.
And if Lewisville Lake, which was at 535.2 feet Friday afternoon, were to top 537 feet — an elevation it has never reached — it could flood more than a thousand homes, authorities said.
“Were it to go higher than 537, the potential for flooding people's homes greatly increases,” said Clay Church, a spokesman for the the corps’ Fort Worth district.
The rise of the Brazos River
Thursday night’s thunderstorms moved west to east and dumped rain in areas around Possum Kingdom Lake before moving into the DFW area.
Officials with the Brazos River Authority opened two gates at Possum Kingdom on Friday morning and are still determining the impact downstream, including in Parker County, said Judi Pierce, a spokeswoman for the authority.
“There’s obviously more water coming,” Pierce said.
The National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center has now projected that the river will crest at 26.7 feet Saturday night, which is considered a moderate flood. A flood warning has been issued until June 2.
“Our residents in Horseshoe Bend, Soda Springs, Lazy Bend and other floodprone areas along the Brazos River should make evacuation plans and leave as soon as possible if they have not already left,” said Parker County Judge Mark Riley. “This new crest is likely to inundate homes in low-lying areas along the river.”
The projected flood stage is slightly less than the 27.55 feet that the Brazos reached during the last major flood on June 29, 2007. It is well below the record crest of 31.88 feet on Oct. 14, 1981.
At the same time, the Brazos River Authority is releasing water from Lake Granbury to lessen the rise.
For those Horseshoe Bend residents with nowhere to go, a shelter has been set up at the Weatherford 9th Grade Activity Center at 1007 S. Main St. in Weatherford.
Horseshoe Bend resident Bart Salter, who is riding out the flood at his home, said the predicted flood won’t cause him to flee.
“It will get into some people’s homes but it won’t wipe me out,” Salter said. “It doesn’t scare me. It doesn’t harm me. I will find a way out if I need to.”
Staff writers Gordon Dickson, Robert Cadwallader and Patrick M. Walker contributed to this report.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698