Tag Archive for: memorial day

Heavy Rainfall Threat in Coming Days

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Flood Control Meteorologist just issued a heavy rainfall warning. Lindner notes that the line of strong thunderstorms currently moving across the area will drop rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches.

The good news: the leading edge of this line is becoming detached from the outflow boundary. That suggests storms will weaken as they move southward. Rainfall rates which were 2-4 inches earlier over N Waller and Montgomery Counties have lessened to near 1-2 inches. The main threat now is short duration street flooding in areas with the heaviest rainfall.

Tonight’s Forecast 

Lindner points to extremely active radar out west along the Rio Grande. He says that’s where the next round of weather will be developing. He expects it to move quickly toward our area tonight. Models show this line of storms quickly reaching the area between midnight and 400 a.m. But at the speed it’s moving, he predicts only another 1-2 inches for most areas with this line.

Intercontinental Radar as of 8PM Sunday night, 5/24/2020

Monday Prediction 

Continued high rain chances. The air may take much of the morning and early afternoon to recover from the early morning line of weather, but temperatures will only need to reach the low 80’s to trigger more storms. It will not take much heating to set things off, he warns. Storm motions could be fairly slow Monday afternoon and this could lead to excessive rainfall rates in a short period of time.

Tuesday-Thursday: Continued Threat 

Upper level disturbances remain parked over the state with rounds of storms at nearly any time. Heavy rainfall will continue to be a threat.

Rainfall Amounts Add Up Changing Nature of Threat 

Lindner concludes, “Moisture profiles certainly support heavy to excessive rainfall rates as seen today and if storms slow of train for a period of times totals could quickly add up. Grounds will saturate over time leading to increasing and eventually maximum run-off conditions…so the threat may grow from mainly street flooding to potential rises on area creeks, bayous, and rivers.”  

Lindner concedes that it’s hard to pinpoint any day or time or location that has a higher flood risk than another. “So we will just have to closely watch each convective episode and be prepared to react quickly,” he says.   

Impact of Today’s Rains on Elm Grove

Despite heavy rainfall this afternoon, Jeff Miller, an Elm Grove resident and frequent contributor, drove the streets of Elm Grove this evening. He notes that:

  • Streets still seem clear as of 8 p.m.
  • Taylor Gully is about half full, but water is flowing rapidly
  • Water level is about 2 feet from the top of the twin culverts at the Rustling Elms bridge.

Miller sees the possibility of that culvert being overflowed as a danger.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/24/2020 with reporting from Jeff Miller and Jeff Lindner

999 Days since Hurricane Harvey, 248 since Imelda, and four years since the last Memorial Day Flood.

City Announces Trash Pickup Schedule for Memorial Day Week

This is off topic, but it does affect thousands of readers, hence I’m posting this release from the City of Houston solid waste department. Please note: If your community association has private trash pickup, your schedule will vary. These dates and times affect only those with City pickup.

Solid Waste Schedule for Memorial Day/Week

Monday, May 25, 2020 (Memorial Day)
CITY HOLIDAY: NO COLLECTION SERVICES. All Facilities and services closed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Monday’s garbage collected, B-Week Curbside Recycling, Yard Waste and 4th Monday’s & 4th Tuesday’s Tree Waste collected. Westpark Recycling Center and Reuse Warehouse re-open. Neighborhood Depositories remain closed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Tuesday’s garbage collected, B-Week Curbside Recycling, Yard Waste & 4th Wednesday’s Tree Waste collected. Neighborhood Depositories re-open.

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Thursday’s garbage collected, B-Week Curbside Recycling, Yard Waste & 4th Thursday’s Tree Waste collected.

Friday, May 29, 2020
Friday’s garbage collected, B-Week Curbside Recycling & Yard Waste collected.

For more information about solid waste schedules, contact: Jessica Beemer at (832) 393-3008 or email districte@houstontx.gov.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/22/2020

997 Days after Hurricane Harvey

“Sand Mines Destroyed Our Lives”

Randy Reagan is tough. He grew up in the Conroe oil fields and riding bulls. But nothing prepared him for flooding five times in four years and the series of events that followed.

Reagan raised his family on a 5-acre lot in Bennett Estates. That’s a neighborhood between the San Jacinto West Fork and FM1314, just south of SH242. He made a modest living for himself as an oil-field technician by repairing turbines, first for a local company and then for GE. He harvested all the meat his family ate from his own property and the surrounding forests. Life was good.

Built Home Above 1994 High Water Mark

Bennett Estates rises up from the banks of the San Jacinto West Fork through the 100- and 500-year flood plains to even higher ground. Reagan’s slab is a foot above the high-water mark from the 1994 flood, which at the time involved a massive release from the Lake Conroe dam. So he figured he was safe for anything the future brought. Wrong!

Reagan lives between the sand mines east of the river, just above the mine at the bottom, in the aqua-colored 100-year flood plain. Source: FEMA.

A Happy Life, Until…

While Reagan was never destined for riches, he led a happy life. Until the sand mines came. Then everything changed.

Reagan now lives in a neighborhood five blocks deep – sandwiched between three sand mines comprising almost 1500 acres.

Despite being in the 100-year flood plain, his property has only flooded twice from the San Jacinto – in 1994 and 2017 during Harvey. However, in the last four years, he says, it has also flooded four times from sand mines – twice in 2016, once in 2018 and once in 2019 during Imelda.

As the sand mines have grown, they’ve removed forests and wetlands that used to slow water down during rainfalls.

Now the water rushes through sand pits largely unimpeded. While the mines like to tout how they offer detention capacity in storms, aerial photos show that they offer little. That’s because they are often filled to the brim…even before storms. So, it doesn’t take much to make them overflow in heavy rains. 

Water level in LMI Pit to south of Reagan. Photo taken 2/13/2020 during a mild drought shows little room for more water. This is the mine cited by the TCEQ for discharging 56 million gallons of white gunk into the West Fork last year.

Water flows down into the mines from higher ground and quickly fills the pits. The pits can then spill over into the river and surrounding neighborhoods.

LMI Pit to the North Sends Water South into Neighborhood

That’s what Reagan contends happened with the LMI pit to the north of him. 

  • During Harvey, a satellite photo in Google Earth shows the water blew out the mine’s perimeter road, sending water gushing into Reagan’s neighborhood. 
  • During other recent events, Reagan has ground-level photos that show silty, sandy-brown water coming from the direction of the mine, not the river. 
LMI breach into Reagan neighborhood on 8/30/2017 during Harvey. Five HVL pipelines are now trying to repair damage caused when this mine mined too close to them.
The LMI mine to the north of Reagan on Feb. 13, 2020. In heavy rains, there’s little to keep water from the mine from escaping into Reagan’s neighborhood out of frame at the bottom of the photo. Photo taken in moderate drought conditions.

Hanson Pit to South Backs Water Up into Neighborhood

The mine to the south of Reagan affects him in a different way. Twice, says Reagan, the mine has built walls that blocked the flow of ephemeral streams that used to run through his neighborhood.

The mine dug a ditch to the river in 2011 to let the water drain to the river. That worked for about five years. Then the ditch became overgrown and the volume of water coming from the northern mine became too much. Reagan flooded on Tax Day and Memorial Day in 2016, 2018, and Imelda in 2019. Not to mention the 93 inches he got during Harvey in 2017.

Dirt wall erected by Hanson Aggregates between their pond and Reagan’s property. The drainage ditch in the foreground that they dug in 2011 is no longer any match for water flowing south from the LMI mine behind the camera position.

Problems Grow as Sand Mines Grow

“The sand mines have destroyed our lives,” said Reagan. “We’ve lived here all our lives. This all used to be woods for acres and acres and acres. The first problem I had was back in the 90’s when the sand pits were getting bigger.”

“As they started developing more ponds, they started interrupting the natural runoff.”

Randy Reagan

“When we moved here in the late ’90’s, we had our homesite raised four feet. That’s where FEMA drew the line for insurance at the time. We figured if we built higher than the high water mark from 1994, we would never have to worry. Because in 1994, we had Lake Conroe releasing all that water on us.”

“There was another flood in 1998, but it never affected us. We were high and dry here. LMI still had not built the mine to the north of us at that point,” said Reagan. 

“Now we’ve got water coming at us up from the river, downhill from one mine and backing up from another mine. Sand from the mines even blocks the street drains that lead to the river,” said Reagan.

“All this used to be woods back here with natural creeks and natural drainage. It’s just all gone now. These sand pits done tore it out,” said Reagan. “They’re like giant lakes with no water control.”

Memorial Day Flood in 2016 invades Reagan’s shop.
Memorial Day Flood in 2016 nearly invades Reagan’s home. Note color of water. 93″ of floodwater took this home in Harvey one year later.

“In 2016, we got a lot of rain, but the river never got out of its banks much,” he continued. “The people that live next to LMI (on the north) tell me that the LMI walls keep breaking. The water rushes through their property, coming from the sand pit. In 2016, we had milky brown, silty water sweeping through here. It was so swift that it almost took my truck off the road. I got about 20 inches in my garage during Tax Day and Memorial Day storms. But it never got in my home at that point.”

“The Tax Day Flood in 2016 was our wedding anniversary. We tried to celebrate our anniversary while our garage got flooded. That was LMI. And then we got flooded again on Memorial Day. That was LMI,” said Reagan. “In 2016, the river here was NOT out of its banks. We got flooded from the sand pits.” 

“Then came Harvey. We might have been fine if all we got was the rainwater. It came close. But then they opened the gates at Lake Conroe. And the sand mine upstream of us broke loose again.

Floods Cause Cascading Series of Problems

“Not only did we lose our house, I lost my job and I lost my health. We really hit bottom.” 

“I’ve got breathing problems,” says Reagan. “Everybody in our family has breathing problems.” 

“I was still trying to recover from Harvey, the day I lost my job in 2018. I was admitted into the emergency room because of my breathing that same day.” 

“In the meantime, we were living in a used camper. And it caught on fire. We didn’t have insurance on it,” said Reagan. “My mother had just died. So we were going through that grieving process. Then the camper burns!”

Never-Ending Noise and Vacant Homes

“It used to be quiet here,” he says. “The sand trucks used to run during the days, but never on weekends and never at night. Now they run 24/7 it seems.”

The sand mines and floods took more than Reagan’s health and home. When long-time residents fled to higher ground, they left behind vacant houses. He worries about a criminal element coming in now.

During Harvey, Reagan says water reached 93 inches in his shop. That’s above the door frame.
Reagan yard during Imelda. Note color of water…again.

 “We’re living in my shop now. Everything we have left is in there.” 

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/3/2020

917 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 166 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

From Drought to Floods: The Decade in Review

Jeff Lindner, the Harris County Flood Control District Meteorologist compiled this Decade in Review. After a very dry start, the decade ended incredibly wet. We started with five years of below normal rainfall (2010-2014). Then rains and floods returned in 2015 and continued through 2019. For the period from 2010-2014, the rainfall DEFICIT for BUSH IAH was -56.70 inches. For the period from 2015-2019, the rainfall SURPLUS was +69.78 inches.

Five Deficit Years…

2010: 42.72 (-7.07)

2011: 24.57 (-25.2)

2012: 43.32 (-7.45)

2013: 38.84 (-10.93)

2014: 43.72 (-6.05)

Followed by Five Surplus Years

2015: 70.03 (+20.26)

2016: 60.96 (+11.19)

2017: 79.69 (+29.92)

2018: 56.02 (+6.25)

2019: 51.93 (+2.16)

The decade featured one of the most significant droughts since the 1950’s across the state of Texas and a series of floods that rivals any period of flooding ever experienced in this state.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Flood Control Meteorologist

1. Hurricane Harvey (2017)

Harvey made landfall at Port Aransas on August 27, 2017 at 10:00 pm as a category 4 hurricane with 130mph winds producing extensive wind damage across portions of the Texas coastal bend. A maximum wind gust of 132mph was recorded at Port Aransas and 118mph at Copano Bay. Harvey would then meander slowly east-northeast across portions of southeast Texas and the extreme northwest Gulf of Mexico producing record breaking rainfall and flooding.

A maximum total rainfall of 60.58 inches was recorded at Nederland, TX with over 10,000 square miles receiving over 35 inches of rainfall.

Across Harris County, on average 33.7 inches of rainfall occurred, resulting in record flooding along many of the bayous and creeks. In additional inflows into Addicks and Barker Reservoirs resulted in record pool elevations (exceeded Tax Day by 6.0 feet) in both reservoirs and significant flooding of structures located within the flood pools. Water flowed around the north end spillway of Addicks for the first time since the completion of the dams in the 1940’s.  In Harris County alone over 154,000 homes were flooded and statewide over 250,000 homes were damaged from either flooding or wind. An estimated 500,000 vehicles were damaged or destroyed.

In the counties of Jefferson, Orange, Hardin, and Tyler upwards of 110,000 structures were flooded which is about 33% of the total number of structures in these four counties.

The highway 96 bridge over Village Creek near Silsbee, TX was completely washed away. In Fort Bend County over 200,000 residents were asked to evacuate due to flooding from Barker Reservoir, the Brazos River, and local drainage issues with some 8,700 homes being flooded. Over 9,000 homes were flooded in Brazoria County and over 7,000 in Galveston County. Many of the creeks, bayous, and rivers in southeast Texas surpassed previously held flood records by several feet.

More than 100,000 residents were rescued across southeast Texas by both government and civilian resources with more than 40,000 sheltered in over 150 shelters.

Over 336,000 customers lost power during the hurricane mainly across the coastal bend from wind related damages, but also in the Houston and Beaumont areas from flooding.

Harvey resulted in 125 billion dollars in damage making the hurricane the second costliest hurricane in American history (behind Katrina 2005). Harvey is the worst flooding event to ever impact the United States and resulted in the highest death toll from a landfalling tropical system in the state of Texas since 1919 with over 68 direct fatalities (36 in Harris County alone).

2. Drought/Wildfires (2011)

One of the worst droughts to impact the state of Texas and southeast Texas occurred in 2011 resulting in widespread mandatory water restrictions, the loss of millions of trees, and significant wildfires. High temperatures during the drought were some of the warmest on record and exceeded the extreme heat of the summer of 1980.

For the period from February 1 to August 18, Hobby Airport only recorded 6.36 inches of rainfall breaking the previous driest record from those dates by 6.25 inches. On August 27, 2011, Houston IAH reached a high temperature of 109 at 2:44pm which tied the hottest all-time temperature from September 4, 2000 for the city of Houston.

Over the Labor Day weekend of 2011, primed vegetation from the drought combined with strong winds of 30-40mph on the western side of Tropical Storm Lee over Louisiana produced one of the most devastating wildfire events in Texas history. The Bastrop fire burned over 35,000 acres and some 1600 homes and is the single most devastating wildfire in Texas history.

The tri-county fire (Waller, Grimes, Montgomery Counties) burned over 19,000 acres and some 100 homes. In September 2011, the statewide PDSI index fell to -7.97 or its lowest values ever, indicating the 2011 drought was nearly as equal in severity as the drought of record in the 1950’s.

For 2011, Tomball averaged a rainfall deficit of over 40 inches. Overall statewide water storage fell to 58.78% at the end of October 2011 and Lake Conroe fell to -8.0 feet below its conservation pool. Lake Travis fell to -54.61 feet below its conservation pool or (34% capacity). 644 jurisdictions across the state were under mandatory water restrictions.

The City of Houston also recorded 47 days above 100 degrees (previous record was 32 in 1980). Huntsville recorded 72 days above 100 (previous record was 43 in 1980). The incredible heat of August 2011 was estimated to be a 10,000 year return event for the City of Houston.

3. Tropical Storm Imelda (2019)

Tropical Storm Imelda formed 15 miles off the coast of Brazoria County and made landfall near Freeport on September 17, 2019. Imelda would slowly drift north-northeast across SE TX during the 18th and into the 19th.

Early on the morning of the 19th an extensive band of heavy thunderstorms producing extreme amounts of rainfall developed from Jefferson County to east-central Montgomery County.

Rainfall rates under this band frequently exceeded 4.0-5.0 inches per hours with a few locations receiving over 6.0 inches per hour.

This band of excessive rainfall drifted south-southwest in Harris County by mid morning. 31.0 inches of rainfall was recorded in just 12 hours at Fannett, TX near the Chambers/Jefferson County line with a storm total of 44.29 inches of rainfall at that site.

The 44.29 inches recorded at Fannett, TX makes TS Imelda the 4th wettest tropical cyclone in Texas history and the 5th wettest in US history dating back to 1851.

A 48-hour rainfall total of 29.1 inches was recorded in northeast Harris County near Huffman with 30.4 inches recorded in southeast Montgomery County near Plum Grove. 6.5 inches of rain fell in just 1 hour over the Aldine area of Harris County.

The resultant flooding in Jefferson, Liberty, Chambers, and portions of northeast and north central Harris County equaled and in some cases exceeded that of Harvey.

While overall storm total rainfall amounts were less than Harvey, the duration (intensity) at which some of the rainfall occurred in certain areas was much greater for Imelda than for Harvey yielding in certain instances areas that would flood in Imelda and not Harvey. 3,990 homes flooded in Harris County alone. Several thousand flooded in Montgomery, Liberty, Chambers, and Jefferson Counties.   

4. Tax Day Flood (2016)

On April 17-18, 2016 a slow moving to at times stationary cluster of thunderstorms producing excessive rainfall rates developed over portions of Waller, Austin, northern Fort Bend and western Harris County. Over the next 12 hours rainfall amounts of 12-24 inches would occur from southern Waller County into portions of western Harris County resulting in extensive and severe flooding.

The flooding resulted in 9 fatalities in Harris, Waller, and Austin Counties (7 in Harris County) with an estimated 40,000 vehicles flooded and 9,840 homes flooded in Harris County alone.

A maximum 14.5 hour rainfall rate of 23.50 inches was recorded in Pattison in southern Waller County with 19.30 inches occurring at Monaville in 10 hours.

Modern day record flooding occurred along Cypress Creek and in portions of Addicks Reservoir (only to be exceeded a year later by Harvey).

Significant flooding occurred along the lower Brazos River, only to be exceeded a month later when 20 inches of rainfall fell near Brenham, TX. Addicks Reservoir peaked at its highest level ever recorded at 102.65 feet (only to be exceed by Harvey the following year).

5. Memorial Weekend (2015)

Devastating flooding impacted the state of Texas over the Memorial Day weekend in 2015. The initial onslaught began with excessive rainfall and resulting catastrophic flooding along the Blanco River at Wimberley where the river rose over 30 ft in less than 3 hours. It reached a peak elevation of around 40.2 ft (flood stage 13ft) and exceeded the previous record of 33.3 ft (an 86 year old record).

The Blanco River at San Marcos rose 17 ft in 30 minutes and over 29 ft in 2.5 hours.

Over 1000 residents were displaced and over 350 homes in Wimberley destroyed and washed away. The storm killed 13 persons including 8 from a single river house that washed away. The Ranch Road 165 and Fischer Store Rd bridges across the river were completely destroyed and the Ranch Road 12 bridge sustained significant damage.

The following day, a line of intense thunderstorms would originate in central Texas and move into southeast Texas and slow over southwest Harris County. A total of 8.0 inches of rainfall would fall in a 3 hour period.

11.0 inches fell in 12 hours north of US 59 and Beltway 8 resulting in extensive flash flooding. The first ever Flash Flood Emergency was issued for Harris County at 10:52pm. There were 7 fatalities in Harris County (4 from submerged vehicles at underpasses).

Statewide a total of 27 people died in flash flooding. Flooding along Brays and Keegans Bayous was the most extensive since September 1983 and along Buffalo Bayou since March 1992 and TS Allison (2001).

A total of 6,335 homes flooded in Harris County and an additional 3,540 multi-family units flooded. Some of the same homes would be flooded a year later with the “Tax Day Flood” and all would flood again during Harvey 2 years later. 

That’s the decade in review! If you weren’t browning, you were drowning. Any time your friends and family in other states start complaining about the weather there, send a link to this page to them.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/31/2019

854 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 103 since Imelda