People living near Lake Ray Roberts have been warned to be ready to evacuate their homes as floodgates were partially opened to lower the lake’s level even as forecasters predicted continued rain this week, officials said Tuesday.
After the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates over the weekend, Denton County sheriff’s deputies, county emergency services workers, state troopers and others went door-to-door to alert residents south of the lake.
Lake Ray Roberts, about 12 miles north of Denton, and Lake Lewisville are flood-control lakes for Dallas and its suburbs.
On the western side of the Metroplex, Eagle Mountain Lake’s floodgates were opened at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to allow water to flow into Lake Worth, the Tarrant Regional Water District reported. No need for evacuations is anticipated, a spokesman said.
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A flash flood watch is in effect for North Texas until 7 p.m. Wednesday. As much as 3 inches of rain is possible, the National Weather Service said. Rain chances are 60 percent for Tuesday night and 80 percent for Wednesday.
“The primary threat from these storms is some heavy rainfall and given all the rain that we’ve had recently the soil can not hold that much water,” National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Ryan said.
The rain may start at mid-morning Wednesday and pull away from the Metroplex Wednesday evening, he said.
But meteorologists warned that higher rainfall totals could fall in any neighborhood.
Isolated showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast on Thursday and Friday, and the threat of severe storms returns for the weekend.
In Denton County, no one had been ordered to leave their homes by Tuesday evening.
“Residents in the Greenbelt Corridor between Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville were notified of a potential for rising waters,” Sandi Brackeen of the Denton County sheriff’s office said in a news release Tuesday.
Residents were encouraged to register their home and cellphone numbers to receive emergency messages from Denton County at www.dentoncounty.com/emergencynotifications.
Conservation levels at the lakes have risen well beyond their thresholds, said Rob Jordan, lake manager with the corps in Lewisville. The conservation level relates to the lake’s depth and the amount of water Army engineers want to contain in the lake.
Jordan said that after a week of heavy rain, Lewisville Lake is now at 527.3 feet above sea level — more than 5 feet above normal conservation levels. Ray Roberts has risen 7.2 feet over its conservation level of 632 feet.
Ray Roberts is so full that an area that once was an island where people fished and camped is an island again. Because of the drought, it’s been almost a decade since the piece of land was surrounded by water.
As lake levels rise, water from Ray Roberts is released downstream to Lewisville Lake, which, in turn, releases water downstream to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. Hydrologists at corps district headquarters in Fort Worth determine when to release lake water downstream.
In Tarrant County, people living near Eagle Mountain Lake or Lake Worth should not have to worry about evacuations, said Chad Lorance, a spokesman for the Tarrant Regional Water District.
Eagle Mountain Lake is at its normal conservation level, and Lake Worth is about a foot below, he said.
Staff writer Dustin Dangli contributed to this report.
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763