Last night after posting the third flash flood warning in less than a month, several flood-weary people on FaceBook flashed back to Harvey. They questioned why the SJRA wasn’t releasing water in advance of the storm. I quickly went to SJRA.net and looked at their dashboard. They WERE releasing water. The discussion then morphed into another SJRA bloodletting, borne of fear and frustration over a month of near-continuous flood risk and a year and a half of expensive flood repairs.
I’m not here to defend the SJRA. But I suspected perception and reality were currently out of sync. So I emailed a reader’s comments to Jace Houston, general manager of the SJRA, and asked what they were doing to address his concerns.
Update from Jace Houston of SJRA on Recent Releases
Here is the response I got today. I’m reprinting it word for word.
“As you know, there’s a big information gap between what we do during storm events and what the public perceives. We’re working on some significant items to begin closing that gap.”
“We have an information piece that will go out this afternoon regarding the current rainfall event, but I thought I would mention a couple of items to you just in case you get more inquiries.”
“We’ve been releasing water non-stop since the December 7th rainfall. It takes quite a while to safely lower the lake after its risen a couple of feet above normal level. Obviously the level jumped back up from the Christmas rainfall. Releases went back up to around 7000 cfs, and we’re still at over 3000 cfs. Rainfall has been in the forecast pretty much constantly the last 30 days, so we’re in the mode of trying to safely move it out of the lake before the next storm hits.”
“The forecast for this event is not too bad. Approximately two to three inches across our watershed. We’re only a few inches over 201’, so we should be able to manage this one similarly to the Christmas event.”
Mark Micheletti emailed this PDF to me last week. Micheletti is one of Kingwood’s two SJRA board members. The letter explains in more detail how they set the level of releases and coordinate with other agencies.
I hope this settles some nerves and reassures people.
Update on Current Conditions and Releases
Jeff Lindner of Harris County Flood Control issued this update re: current rains at 7 p.m. tonight:
“A band of heavy rainfall with rainfall rates of 1.0-1.5 inches per hour is moving NNE over much of Harris County currently extending along the US 59 corridor. HCFCD gages show rainfall amounts of .75-1.5 inches with this band in an hour or less and this will likely result in some street flooding. Rises on area watersheds are likely, but creeks and bayous will be able to handle this round of rainfall.”
“Additional activity to the SW will likely move into the county over the next few hours.”
Hope that helps! Stay tuned to the National Weather Service, NOAA or your favorite source of weather information.
Here are the latest predictions from NOAA for the area around US59 and rainfall in the last 24 hours for Harris County.
Posted by Bob Rehak on January 2, 2019
491 Days after Hurricane Harvey