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Lake Houston lowered 6 inches overnight in preparation for Hurricane Laura

Chron logo Chron 8/26/2020 By Savannah Mehrtens, Staff writer

The pooling level at Lake Houston was reduced gradually overnight to reduce the potential for flooding, as Hurricane Laura looms in the Gulf of Mexico.

It was lowered 6 inches to 41 feet above mean sea level, Mayor Pro Tem and District E Councilmember Dave Martin announced on Tuesday afternoon. Lake Houston, which sits near the end of the San Jacinto Regional Watershed, is now 18 inches below its normal pooling level.

With the expected 2-4 inches of rain over six days in the Lake Houston area from Hurricane Laura and a chance of an isolated six inches of rain, the rainfall amounts go beyond the 3-inch requirement for release. The hurricane is expected to be a category four storm when it makes landfall tonight somewhere near the Texas-Louisiana border.

High winds may cause fluctuations in the lowering, according to the press release.

“(Lake Houston) will be maintained at a level of approximately 41.0 ft while there is an immediate inclement weather threat,” Martin said in a statement. “Once the inclement weather threat has moved out of our area the lake will be allowed to naturally refill due to runoff from the rain event.”

Lake Houston area officials and residents are paying attention to the pooling level of Lake Conroe to see if the San Jacinto River Authority, which manages the lake, will release water downstream that will eventually land in Lake Houston.

Lake Houston is connected to Lake Conroe through various waterways, such as the San Jacinto River. Although there is limited infrastructure to protect areas downstream from Lake Conroe, such as Kingwood, Humble and East Montgomery County, such as seasonal lowering.

On Aug. 1, Lake Conroe is lowered to 200 feet above mean sea level and then starting Sept. 1, it is lowered to 199.5 feet above mean sea level. The city of Houston, which owns two-thirds of the lake, can also initiate a pre-release to 199 feet mean sea level through a written notification if a named storm heads towards the region or the Texas Gulf Coast.

As of Aug. 26, Lake Conroe is at 199.71 feet, according to the SJRA interactive mapping system. The entity is not planning any pre-releases.

“We will stay on top of the weather throughout the week, and we urge the public to follow their local offices of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and to check SJRA social media channels and website for the most up-to-date information,” SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said in a notice from the authority.

Testing sites have been closed Aug. 26-27 due to Laura and are expected to open on Aug. 28 according to the Houston Health Department. By the evening of Aug. 25, the Houston region’s positive COVID-19 cases had increased to 145,698 and reached 2,726 deaths.


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