Close Call for St. Martha School, Kids in Action Yesterday; More Heavy Storms Possible Tonight, Tomorrow

Update: The tornado watch mentioned below turned into a tornado warning at 9:15 pm when radar spotted rotation in storms on the west side of Houston. with hail as large as 1.75 inches.

On Monday afternoon, May 17, Kingwood received approximately 5.5 inches of rain. It fell at the rate of more than an inch in 15 minutes at one point. The downpour flooded streets and Ben’s Branch near the St. Martha School on Woodland Hills came out of its banks. Luckily, no buildings flooded, but these pictures show how close the water came. The video and all photos below were taken by John Sedlak as the rain ended.

Frustration shows on the face of staffers as they watch floodwaters race across the parking lot and near their steps.
View of main parking lot of St. Martha School. Bens Branch is in background.
At the Woodland Hills Bridge, Bens Branch briefly came out of its banks and threatened Kids in Action also.

At this point on Ben’s Branch, the man-made channel transitions to a natural one. Backups usually occur where that happens.

Compare this picture of the statue of Jesus taken yesterday with the one taken during Imelda below.
St. Martha School during Imelda on 9/19/2021

During Imelda, water DID get in the school. The damage took months to repair. As part of that process, the school “flood proofed itself.” Luckily that wasn’t needed yesterday.

Weather Tonight, Tomorrow Includes Tornado Watch Till 2 a.m

As I write this, my cell phone is blowing up with weather warnings, including a tornado watch. And I can hear distant claps of thunder.

Another line of thunderstorms is moving from the southwest to northeast, but also sliding toward the Lake Houston Area at the same time.

Image from KHGX radar taken from RadarScope Pro, an amazing app to increase situational awareness in extreme events. It provides coverage of most radars in North America.

Here’s the National Weather Service discussion associated with these storms. Highlights:

  • A tornado watch (#190) has been issued for most of the area until 2 a.m.
  • Flash flood watch expires Thursday morning.
  • Watch for rises on the East Fork of the San Jacinto and the Trinity.
  • In Harris County, Spring Creek and Cypress Creek remain high and will need to be watched if heavy rain develops.
  • Releases from area reservoirs such as Lake Conroe will play a role in streamflow and water levels

An additional 1 to 3 inches of rain with locally higher totals will be possible today. A stronger upper level disturbance will bring yet another round of heavy rain Wednesday into Thursday with additional totals of 2 to 4 inches of rain with again locally higher totals possible. Storm total rainfall by Thursday morning will average between 4 and 8 inches with isolated totals possibly exceeding 10 inches. The flood threat will be strongly dependent on where the rain falls and how quickly it falls.

Protective Actions for Tornadoes

Be Prepared.  Have a safe room available and be ready to shelter quickly if a Tornado Warning is issued for your area or if you suspect a tornado is near.  Bring pets indoors and delay travel until the threat of severe weather has passed.

If a Tornado Warning is issued for your area:

  • Get In:  Get inside a sturdy structure, find shelter in an interior room, away from windows.
  • Get Low:  Seek shelter on the lowest floor possible, or underground, if possible.
  • Hold On:  Grab on to a sturdy object and hold on.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/18/2021 at 8:30 p.m. based on information from HCFCD, NWS and Alert Houston

1358 Days since Hurricane Harvey