Austin-area residents living near Circuit of the Americas awoke to tornado warnings this morning. If you thought it was bad last weekend and openly wondered, “How much worse can it get?,” congratulations: we’re all blaming you. COTA was so inundated with storm water that parts of it flooded today.
Winds were so bad this morning that the KXAN news camera was unable to move from the white-out view above. Usually, the local news station can adjust the position of that camera to take a look around, however, it broke during early morning storms and was stuck looking towards the base of the circuit’s tower.
This, of course, is the same storm that produced the best weather-related interview ever filmed on television. The infamous Dude Calling From Up A Tree was also caught out by heavy rains in southwest Travis County.
At COTA, the pit lane and the garages seem to have gotten the worst of it, as you can see in this Imgur gallery posted by user rdm55.
Water not only floated several trash cans out of place, but it also started pouring into the Media Center. Given that the Media Center and pit buildings have cabling run though the floor for various systems, it’s a bit worrying to see water pouring in the front doors.
Race Control is also located inside the pit building, but fortunately, Circuit IT guy and commenter Clown Shoe Pilot confirmed that the server room at least stayed high and dry.
Either way, I think the F1 teams playing around in the pit lane last weekend may have needed real boats had they stuck around for an extra week.
UPDATE: Vance Facundo of GP Americas sent over a few of his photos from the area around Circuit of the Americas, and holy crap.
The canopy of the Exxon gas station outside the south entrance to the circuit was completely ripped apart.
One temporary light near the entrance to the circuit was completely tipped over.
Here’s one of the fields outside the entrance to COTA that sometimes gets used as an off-site parking lot. You can see where floodwaters sent debris into the wire fences on the property and some combination of rain, current and winds largely destroyed signs on the lot.
Several spots on FM 812, which is the main road that runs along the south end of the circuit, were completely washed out as well.
The surface on FM 812 to Lot T has been reminding me of the Washington state highway that was built on top of a slow-moving landslide in crumminess and bumpiness lately, so it looks like chunks of the road finally just gave way.
Either way, we’re very lucky the grand prix wasn’t this weekend.
UPDATE #2: Photos of a flooded tunnel and an ominous blue grandstand screen have also surfaced on Twitter. Tunnel 2 goes underneath Turn 12 and is tall enough for haulers to get in and out of, so that’s an insane amount of flooding.
[H/T Kurt Bradley for the tunnel tweet!]
UPDATE #3: Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, cars, homes and people have been swept up in the high waters. KVUE reports that the oldest of three brothers who left work at Circuit of the Americas yesterday is still missing. The brothers were driving on FM 812 near the SH 130 toll road when their car was swept up in the rising waters. Two were recovered, however, one remains missing today.
UPDATE #4 [11/2/15]: Circuit of the Americas is rushing to prepare for this weekend, when one of the largest Sportscar Vintage Racing Association events in the country is — as far as we know — still on the calendar.
GP Americas posted an album of clean-up and aftermath pics taken by local Greg Stevens here.
One of the walls for the tunnel underneath the long straight between Turn 11 and Turn 12 collapsed, and lots of mud was left behind.
Sadly, KXAN reports that the man who was swept from his car near the circuit has passed away. His body was found one mile downstream from the vehicle Sunday morning. Two other area residents also passed away in the floods this weekend.
Photo credits: Vance Facundo [snapshots around FM 812]
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