Residents brace for Memorial Day weekend boaters, possible storms

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

Boaters enjoy Lake LBJ on a holiday weekend. Photo courtesy of Keith Bedard/Down to Earth Aerial Photography

Boaters enjoy Lake LBJ on a holiday weekend. Photo courtesy of Keith Bedard/Down to Earth Aerial Photography

MARBLE FALLS —  As the recent rains feed area lake levels, officials anticipate a busy Memorial Day weekend May 22-25 and warn about the potential for severe weather.

“We expect to see a little more traffic,” said Game Warden Cody Hatfield of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “(Lake) Travis has started catching some water, and I know they’ve opened a couple of boat ramps, and that may ease some of the traffic coming (to lakes Buchanan, LBJ and Marble Falls.)”

As of May 21, Lake Buchanan is considered 39 percent full and Lake Travis is 43 percent full, according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.

Because of recent rainfall, the combined total of those reservoirs has increased from about 38 percent full to 41 percent full.

Lakes LBJ and Marble Falls and Inks Lake are pass-through waterways, which typically remain at constant levels, and each have at least one public boat ramp open.

Of the dozen public boat ramps on Lake Travis, officials have opened two as a result of rising levels: one at Pace Bend Park at Tournament Point and the other near Mansfield Dam — both ends of the waterway.

No public boat ramps are open on Lake Buchanan.

Such access might attract more revelers; however, the threat of severe weather looms.

“Watch the weather this weekend. We’ve got forecast for rain and potential for dangerous high wind and/or hail,” Hatfield said. “We just encourage everyone to pay attention to the weather forecast and make a plan when they go out on the water.”

From May 22-23, meteorologists expect more rain — as much as 2-3 inches — and possible thunderstorms across Central Texas and the Hill Country region.

“(Moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific) will lead to development of scattered rain showers and thunderstorms across the region both days. The probability for rain will be near 40-50 percent,” according to LCRA meteorologist Bob Rose. “Rain amounts through this period are forecast to average around 1 inch.

“High temperatures will be in the low 80s Friday and in the mid-80s on Saturday,” Rose said.

No matter the weather, game wardens and area law enforcement are prepped for the weekend.

“It’s basically the start of the summer. Schools are letting out. A lot of people are getting on the water for the first time this year,” Hatfield said. “People need to be aware of the influx of traffic … in the Highland Lakes area.”

Game wardens and other law enforcement on the waterways this weekend remind boaters to:

• make sure required safety equipment and gear is in good working order;

• equip watercraft with life jackets, especially for children;

• check watercraft structures, boat plugs and engine function;

• and avoid bad behavior.

“We bring extra help of wardens from other area who don’t have lakes in their area,” he said. “We will be enforcing boating while intoxicated laws along with every other Texas Parks and Wildlife and penal code infractions.”

connie@thepicayune.com

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