Pecan Creek Gets Wild

A sudden thunderstorm caused our normally placid creek to overflow.
Photo: Pecan Creek overflows its banks

Horseshoe Bay experienced a severe thunderstorm in the evening of May 31st, bringing some of the heaviest rainfall we’ve experienced in our decade of living here, along with strong winds. The effect of this weather on our neighborhood was dramatic, as the creek that bisects it (and runs directly behind our house) quickly overflowed its banks.

I managed to capture photos and video of the impact of the storm, and combined that media into a seven-minute YouTube movie to document the experience.

It took longer to make this video than it did for the flood to occur.

In 2018, the Highland Lakes region experienced what was characterized as a hundred-year flood. It devastated a multitude of homes along the Colorado River and the lakes it fed. We had 6″ of rain at our house during that event, but it didn’t fall all at once and while Pecan Creek did overflow, it was nothing like we experienced last week.

We measured 3″ of rain in about a half hour, and that was on top of an additional 2″ we received the previous evening. The ground was completely saturated as a result. The rainfall overwhelmed the drainage system in the neighborhood. Water rose within a couple of inches of our front door as runoff from the hill that our house faces came directly into our courtyard. But we were fortunate as the rain slacked off before the water rose further; some of our neighbors in the back part of the development weren’t so lucky. At least three houses suffered water encroachment, either from the street runoff or from overflowing swimming pools.

Our property didn’t entirely escape damage, however. The high winds snapped off yet another huge limb from one of the cedar elms in our front yard, and sent it sprawling across the cul-de-sac.

Photo: Broken cedar elm limb lying in the middle of the street

This photo is a bit misleading as far as getting a sense of the scale. That limb was 20′ long and the foliage was about 12′ wide. At the base, the limb was about 8″ in diameter. I was out with a chainsaw at 7:00 the following morning and with Debbie’s help, we stacked a pile of brush in our driveway in order to clear the street.

Frankly, I don’t mourn the loss of this limb too much. I’m actually surprised it didn’t come down soon, as it sprang almost horizontally from the tree’s trunk, and cedar elms are notoriously brittle.

It wasn’t all bad news. We’ve now had almost 20″ of rain this year at our house, and May was exceptionally wet across the region, enough so that the water levels in Lakes Buchanan and Travis rose enough for the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to ease water usage restrictions. That means that we can return to twice weekly lawn irrigation, almost a month to the day after the LCRA imposed the stricter rules. Of course, unless we continue to get abundant rainfall, we’ll soon be back to water rationing, especially given the extreme heat we’re now experiencing (the heat index as I type this is 110º).

It’s been five days since the rain “event,” and even though the water has receded to its normal level, we can still hear the creek flowing under the low water crossing from our back yard deck. It’s a happy sound, and that makes us happy.

4 comments

    1. Don, we were really quite fortunate, and have been all spring. Most of the hail has missed us, and what we did get was very small. I hate to hear about your roof, and I hope your insurance company is cooperative!

    1. It could have been worse…it looked like your former home had some high water, judging by the water marks on the exterior. Haven’t heard from the new owners as to whether it actually got inside the house. Hope y’all are doing well!

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