Tag Archive for: evacuation

Lake Conroe Release Rate at 90% of Harvey

5/2/24 at 4:30 PM – The San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) is releasing water at the rate of 69,545 cubic feet per second (CFS from Lake Conroe. That’s down a couple thousand from the 71,835 they released earlier this afternoon, the second highest release rate ever – 90% of the all-time record of 79,000 CFS during Hurricane Harvey.

At that rate, NOAA predicted the San Jacinto West Fork at US59 would peak at 62.4 feet. Since then, they’ve reduced that back a bit to 62.2.

However, the level of Lake Conroe is still rising slightly. It stands at 205.13 MSL (mean feet above sea level) as of 4:30 PM.

And local leaders including Houston Mayor John Whitmire, State Rep. Charles Cunningham and City Council Member Fred Flickinger met in Kingwood to plan emergency response with first-responders.

More Rain on Way

The level of Lake Conroe is up significantly since this morning. And another rain storm is headed our way tonight. The National Weather Service predicts a 40% chance of more thunderstorms tonight. Anything that falls will be on top of almost 7 inches of rain received in the Kingwood area earlier today.

Flood watches and warnings remain in effect at the present time. Any new rain will fall onto already saturated soils, resulting in rapid runoff.

SJRA Pushing Up Against Limit

But the SJRA is running out of room. At 207, they flood Lake Conroe homes and endanger the dam, according to Mark Micheletti, an SJRA board member who lives in Kingwood.

Micheletti has demanded that SJRA operators throttle back releases as soon as they stabilize the Lake Conroe’s level. The SJRA hopes to keep a safety margin by not letting the lake level get above 206, but nature, not engineers will make that call.

Meanwhile, the uncertainty has many Kingwood people in panic mode wondering whether they should evacuate. I’ve been deluged (pardon the pun) with requests for information.

Whitmire Visits Kingwood to Plan Flood Response

Houston Mayor John Whitmire came to Kingwood this afternoon to meet with first responders and area leaders. He wanted to personally see the situation and assess what the area needs. He met with Fire Chief Samuel Peña, first responders, State Representative Charles Cunningham and City Council Member Fred Flickinger at Fire Station 102 on West Lake Houston Parkway.

CM Fred Flickinger (center) met with Mayor Whitmire (right), Chief Samuel Peña (left) and other first responders at Fire Station 102 this afternoon on West Lake Houston Parkway.

Peña emphasized the need for vehicles to stay out of high water. The fire department had already made numerous high water rescues today.

State Representative Charles Cunningham (left) also helped plan the emergency response.

At the meeting, Whitmire also said that he had discussed evacuation orders for certain subdivisions with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. After Harvey, “communication with residents” and “warning time” were identified as two of the primary things officials needed to improve.

Current East Fork Predictions and Evacuation Orders

According to Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner, the County has issued evacuation orders for the east side of the East Fork San Jacinto from FM1485 to Lake Houston. (Lake Houston Park is on the west side.) Forecasted water levels will rise 7-8 feet higher than earlier this week. Structures on the ground will be flooded to rooftop levels. Elevated structures will be flooded.

For reference, the forecasted East Fork water level is 3 ft below Harvey.

Impacted subdivisions: 
  • Idle Wilde
  • Idle Glen
  • Cypress Point
  • River Terrace
  • Magnolia Point
  • Northwood Country Estates

Current West Fork San Jacinto Predictions and Warnings

The West Fork is rapidly rising from upstream inflows. It will reach major flood levels and will rise to near 62 ft on Saturday. Widespread low-land flooding will occur impacting the following subdivisions:

  • Belleau Woods
  • Rivercrest
  • Northshore
  • Forest Cove
  • Kings Point
  • Atasocita Shores

In Kingwood, Lindner expects flooding of streets and the lowest structures nearest the river. He also predicts backwater impacts along the tributaries. That means high river levels could force water in channels and tributaries to back up.

The following areas will be completely flooded with several feet of water: Deerwood Country Club, Deer Ridge Park, and Kingwood Country Club.

Elevated residents near the river should be prepared to be cut-off through the weekend.

I have queried HCFCD about the list of subdivisions above. It seems incomplete. But I have not yet heard back.

San Jacinto River Below Lake Houston

Major flooding is expected at all locations along the lower portions of the river.

Rio Villa will be completely inundated and cut-off. 

High velocity flows may damage vessels and barges near I-10.

Flow may approach and potentially reach I-10 on the west side of the river.

Real Time Inundation Monitoring

To monitor what’s going on around you, Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner suggests using the Real-Time Inundation Mapping Tool found in the Harris County Flood Warning System. From the home page, just click “Inundation Map” in the upper left tool bar, then zoom into the area of interest.

As of 4:22 PM on 5/2/24. Note large areas already inundated.

Easy Way to Find the Elevation of Your Home

Don’t know the elevation of your home? Consult this post about how to find it in the USGS National Map.

More updates later. SJRA may issue another statement at 8PM.

Posted by Bob Rehak at 4:30 PM, Thursday, May 2, 2024

2438 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Stilts Not Always Answer, Evac Not Always Possible For High Rises Near Floodway

Last Monday, Gabriel Haddad, the Romerica developer who wants to put up 25-50 story high rises and 5,000 condos near the floodway of the West Fork, told a packed audience at the Kingwood Community Center that he would construct his buildings on stilts.

Of course, he also wants to put 150,000 cubic yards of fill in wetlands and streams which is why he’s applying for the Army Corps permit. But put that aside for the moment.

Catching Debris and Creating Backwater

Stilts may be the best answer when building near floodways. They can reduce the net impact on flooding compared to fill. However, they still have their drawbacks…as these pictures show. For instance, stilts, stairs and anything below a building will catch debris being washed downstream and back water up.

Debris washed downstream and caught on Balcom property
Debris washed downstream caught on stairs. Photo by Melissa Balcom.
All the trees caught in the bridge supports for the old 59 bridge reportedly formed a “dam” during Harvey that backed water up into Humble businesses. Ask Humble Mayor Merle Aaron about his feelings on the subject.
Debris caught under bridges during Harvey. Photos by David Seitzinger.
Stilts didn’t help thousands of homes on the Bolivar Peninsula during Hurricane Ike. They have to be high enough to elevate the home above the flood. More than a 100 people died on Bolivar who failed to evacuate before Ike. They thought their elevated homes would keep them safe.

Evacuation Routes Flooded

The next three pictures show one of the planned evacuation routes, Hamblen Road. As you can see, connecting Woodland Hills to Hamblen might help with normal traffic, but it would not help at all during a flood.

Hamblen Road during the Tax Day Flood of 2016. Photo by Melissa Balcom. Note height of street lights.
Hamblen Road during the Memorial Day flood of 2016. “This is when we thought things were as bad as they would ever get!” said Melissa Balcom who lives between Hamblen and the West Fork of the San Jacinto.
Same area on Hamblen during Harvey. Compare street lights in the background. The brick wall on the left is completely submerged.

“The water is actually even deeper than it appears because those street lights are on a hill that lines the side of Hamblen,” said Melissa Balcom, who took these photos. “The water is so deep you can’t even see the white brick fence that lines Hamblen.  It completely covers it!  That’s one of the reasons why making Hamblen a cut through street is so ridiculous.”

Horror Movie in the Making

When I asked Mr. Haddad how he planned to evacuate 15,000 people by boat if there were ever another midnight release from the Conroe dam without warning, he said that people could shelter in place.

Imagine being in a high rise…in August, when the water comes up, the power goes out, the toilets overflow, the AC fails, the humidity hits 99%, and you can’t open the windows. That may be a Navy Seal’s idea of luxury living, but not mine. I’ll pass, thank you!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/24/2019

572 Days since Hurricane Harvey