The city of Houston may begin pre-releasing water from Lake Houston depending on the progression of tropical activity heading toward the Gulf of Mexico.
“Houston Public Works is monitoring tropical development approaching the Gulf of Mexico labeled by the National Hurricane Center as Invest 95L,” states a city press release. “If the storm develops, Houston Water is preparing for the potential of a pre-release of water to lower Lake Houston later this week.”
Officials with Houston Public Works and the Office of Emergency Management said the chance of the formation of a tropical system or storm was 60 percent as of Wednesday. Multiple agencies have partnered together to prepare for rain events this hurricane season.
“We’ve been prepared since last week for rains this weekend and in the long term,” said Cory Stottlemyer, public information officer with the Office of Emergency Management.
Agencies will continue tracking the development. No matter what, Stottlemyer said, additional rain is expected, which may lead to likely street flooding.
“We’ll probably start seeing impacts starting (Thursday, Sept. 13,)” Stottlemyer said. “We’re expecting about 2-4 inches of rain from Thursday to Sunday. In isolated areas, there could be higher amounts, which could result in street flooding.”
He said agencies are prepared for rain events through the weekend.
“The Houston Fire Department has staged high water vehicles and rescue boats in areas, and the Houston Police Department has done the same thing,” Stottlemyer said. “Houston Public Works staged barricades throughout the city. The Emergency Operations Center is not active right now. As we get more concrete facts from the National Weather Service, we’ll start making more quick decisions.”
According to Erin Jones, Houston Public Works public information officer, the determination to lower Lake Houston may be made closer to the weekend.
“As it develops, Mayor (Sylvester) Turner is keeping the public informed,” Jones said.
If a pre-release is deemed necessary, Lake Houston may be lowered 12 to 18 inches and residents around the lake are urged to prepare accordingly.
“Property owners should make arrangements for boats and other items along the shoreline,” states the press release.
Stottlemyer explained that the goal right now is to keep the public informed and prepared — not on edge.
“We encourage people to sign-up for Alert Houston and also for direct notifications from the Office of Emergency Management to get those sent directly to your phone through text message, email and phone call,” Stottlemyer said. “Staying alert is what we’re encouraging. Also, people can visit www.readyhoustontx.gov to have plans in place for whatever comes through here this hurricane season.”