Report Title: Major and Catastrophic Storms and Floods in Texas  
Report Guide
Glossary of Terms
Introductory Materials
Substantial flood peaks
Links to related web resouces
Measuring and gaging streamflow
Measuring Precipitation
Recent storm reports
John Patton storm narratives
Flood safety
Credtis and dedication
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  John Patton Narratives
  Data and Descriptions of Selected Substantial Storms and Floods as Documented by John Patton

1869 - Probably the biggest flood in Texas history - Produced by heavy rain that extended into northwest Texas - Tremendous flooding down the Colorado River from the headwaters to the mouth

Account of flood by Frank Brown - Travis County Clerk, in the "Annals of Travis County" -

"The highest and probably the most disastrous flood that ever came down the Colorado River within a hundred years occurred early in July 1869. Certainly none such ever occurred within the memory of oldest inhabitants of the white race. The floods of 1833, 1836, 1843, 1852, and 1870 did not approach it in volume within 8 or 10 ft.

Early in the first week of July rain commenced falling and so continued at short intervals for several days. The stream commenced gradually rising, but no apprehension was felt of the heavy overflow. On the 6th, a tremendous flood suddenly came down in solid walls, overflowing all the lowlands and spreading over the valleys to the hills. The river rose to the bluffs. The people thought the highest was reached, but the water continued to rise rapidly, and much alarm was felt. The river reached its highest mark on the evening of July 7, at about 9 o'clock.

The rise was estimated at forty-six ft. The mass of waters rushed down from the narrow and confined channel between the mountains above, to the wider one below, with such fearful velocity that the middle of the stream was higher than the sides, and the aspect it presented was appalling."

  • Pedernales River -
    near Johnson City - 33.0' July 1869

  • Onion Creek -
    Hwy 183 (Austin) - 38.0' July 3, 1869 (newspaper accounts)

  • Colorado River -
    at Austin - 51.0' July 7, 1869
    at Bastrop - 60.3' July 7 or 8, 1869
    at Smithville - July 8, 1869 - several feet higher than the 47.4' Dec 4, 1913
    above LaGrange - 56.7' July 9, 1869
    at Columbus - 51.6' July 1869 (river split above town and made into island)
    at Wharton - 51.9' July 12, 1869
    near Bay City - 56.1' July 1869

1899 - 1 AM June 27 to 1 AM July 1, 1899 - Widespread heavy rain with 34-in. center in Hearne, 24-in. center in Turnersville, just north of Gatesville.

Probably stalled long wave over west Texas and/or New Mexico for period - Mid- and upper-level water vapor from eastern Pacific - Low-level moisture from jet off Gulf into Texas - and a series of short waves around the southern periphery of the long wave.

  • San Saba River -
    at Menard - 23.3' June 6, 1899
    at San Saba - 36.7' June 6, 1899

  • Navasota River -
    near Easterly - 29' crest (60,000 cfs) June 1899
    near Bryan (Hwy 21) - 41' crest June 1899

  • Brazos River -
    near Hempstead - 63.6' crest July 2, 1899
    Richmond - 58.6' crest July 1899

1913 - 7 AM Dec 1 to 7 AM Dec 5, 1913 - Widespread heavy rain with 15.50 in. center at San Marcos, 13.80 in. at Bertram, 13.60 in. at Somerville, 11.80 in. at Waco, 11.70 in. at Kaufman - Obviously a classic El Nino year - rainfall totals 20 to 25 in. had fallen in the previous 3 months in the area, and water stood in the fields between storms.

Very likely a long wave stalled over west Texas or New Mexico Dec 1-5 and sent a series of storms around its southern periphery.

The Colorado and Brazos Rivers merged below IH-10 to the Gulf because of the very widespread heavy rain, no flood-control reservoirs on the Colorado or Brazos River, and debris dams on the Colorado and Brazos Rivers.

The Colorado River dam was from river mile 28 above Bay City to river mile 52 just below Wharton - The dam wasn't successfully blasted out by the Corps of Engineers until between 1925 and 1929.

There were 180 drownings - Water was waist deep in downtown Bay City - The Colorado River went over the right bank above Columbus and made an island of the town.

  • Brazos River -
    near Highbank - 42.0' Dec 1913
    near Bryan (State Hwy 21) - 61' Dec 5, 1913
    near Hempstead - 66.1' Dec 8, 1913
    at Richmond - 61.2' Dec 10, 1913
    at Rosharon - 56.4' - Dec 11, 1913

  • Colorado River -
    at Bastrop - 53.3' Dec 4, 1913
    at Smithville - 47.4' Dec 4, 1913
    above LaGrange - 56.4' Dec 5, 1913
    at Columbus - 51.6' Dec 6, 1913 (river split above town and made into island)
    at Wharton - 51.9' Dec 8, 1913
    near Bay City - 56.1' Dec 10, 1913

1921 - Thrall Flood - A tropical storm formed in the Bay of Campeche the morning of Sept 6, 1921 - made hurricane intensity that afternoon - made landfall near Vera Cruz the early morning of Sept 7 - veered right and fell below depression intensity just as it crossed the Rio Grande at Rio Grande City the night of the 7th - Light rain began falling in San Antonio the 8th, which became a deluge the evening of the 9th, with totals to 18 in. in the northern part of San Antonio.

The 18 in. in northern Bexar County the evening of Sept 9, 1921, created a flood wave through downtown San Antonio 12 ft deep - The flow passed down Olmos and Apache Creeks into the San Antonio River - People caught downtown tried to evacuate vertically to upper floors - 51 didn't make it and drowned as the flood wave peaked near 1:30 AM -

Water was 4 to 5 ft deep in the current St. Marys Church and the Gunter Hotel. Olmos Dam was completed in 1928 as a flood-retention dam to protect downtown San Antonio as a direct result.

Thrall rainfall - 23.4 in. during 6 hrs/31.8 in. during 12 hrs/36.4 in. during 18 hrs/38.2 in. during 24 hrs at a U.S. Weather Bureau station at Thrall is still the national official 24-hr rainfall record ending at 7 AM Sept 10, 1921 - The storm total was 39.7 in. during 36 hrs - With 215 drownings statewide, this was the deadliest flood in Texas history.

Eighty-seven people drowned in and near Taylor and 93 in Williamson County. The confluence of the San Gabriel River and Brushy Creek was 10 mi wide. Not an El Nino or a La Nina year.

  • Little River -
    at Little River - 46.8' - Sept 1921
    at Cameron - 53.2' (647,000 cfs) Sept 10, 1921

  • North Fork San Gabriel River
    at Georgetown - 39.5' Sept 1921

  • San Gabriel River -
    at Laneport - 39.6' - Sept 1921

  • Brazos River -
    at Bryan - 54' Sept 12, 1921

  • Washington on Brazos - 50'

  • Onion Creek -
    U.S. Hwy 183 (Austin) - 38.0'

1932 - June 30 to July 2, 1932 - The State fish hatchery near Mountain Home on Johnson Creek above Ingram recorded 19.6 in. during 6 hrs - 32.4 in. during 18 hrs - and a storm total of 35.6 in. during 36 hrs in a widespread flood event - Uvalde had 20 in.

Probably a synoptic scale upper low moved into and stalled over the Texas Hill Country - fed by tremendous moisture inflow at low levels from the Gulf - and at mid and upper levels from the eastern Pacific - The winter of 1932-33 was an El Nino event.

The fact that central and south Texas draws moisture both from the Gulf at low levels and the eastern Pacific at upper levels gives the area capacity for tremendous atmospheric water vapor - Precipitable water quite often exceeds 2.00 in. and could be greater than 2.40 in.

Seven persons drowned in the Guadalupe River headwaters - Disastrous destruction of recreation camps and homes along the Guadalupe River - a daytime flood, which saved many lives.

In north Texas, Jim Ned Creek and Pecan Bayou dumped a peak inflow of 235,000 cfs into Lake Brownwood - Lake Brownwood saved the city of Brownwood.

  • Johnson Creek -
    near Ingram - 35' (138,000 cfs) 7/2/1932 - drainage 114 mi2 - (runoff
    1,210.5 cfs/mi2)

  • Guadalupe River -
    near Hunt - 36.6' (206,000 cfs) 7/2/1932 - drainage 288 mi2 - (runoff
    715.3 cfs/mi2)
    at Kerrville - 39.0' (196,000 cfs) 7/2/1932 - drainage 520 mi2

  • Seco Creek -
    at Rowe Ranch 3N of D'Hanis - 28.2' July 2, 1932 (35,800 cfs)

  • Frio River -
    at Concan - 34.44' (162,000 cfs) 7/1/1932 - drainage 405 mi2
    at Derby - 29.45' (230,000 cfs) 7/4/1932

1932 - Sept 1, 1932 - Flooding was disastrous covering most of Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass - 5 ft over the deck of the International Bridge - In Laredo, the International Bridge deck was flooded by 6 ft - nearly 200 city blocks in Laredo flooded and about half the business district in Nuevo Laredo was underwater.

Nothing is known about the meteorology or rainfall except this was the onset of the El Nino winter of 1932-33

  • Rio Grande -
    at Del Rio - 34.5' Sept 1, 1932
    at Eagle Pass - 49.0' Sept 2, 1932
    at Laredo - 49.6' Sept 3, 1932

1935 - May 31, 1935 D'Hanis Flood - A circular water tank at the Woodward Ranch, 10 mi north of D'Hanis, empty before the flood by several reports, overflowed in less than 3 hrs - The tank was 21.84 in. deep - The Rowe Ranch river gage 3 N of D'Hanis crested at 35.7 ft - The entire town of D'Hanis was underwater, and 17 homes washed away - more than a mile of Southern Pacific railway washed away, and there were 5 drownings, again held down by the daytime event - Probably an upper-level low that stalled over the D'Hanis area. Not an El Nino or a La Nina year.

  • Seco Creek -
    Rowe Ranch 3N of D'Hanis - 35.7' May 31, 1935

1935 - June 9 to 15, 1935 - During peak of normal flood season - Likely stalled long wave west of central Texas for 6 days sent series of upper lows around southern periphery over Texas - Low-level jet from Gulf and mid- and upper-level flow off eastern Pacific over central Texas - Widespread, long lived, disastrous flooding over the Texas Hill Country.

An 18-in. center in Dry Devils River drainage northeast of Del Rio - 18-in. center near Segovia southeast of Junction - Rainfall reports missed what obviously was nearly 20 in. or more in western Edwards County, which fed the tremendous flow down the Nueces River. Not El Nino or La Nina year.

  • Llano River -
    near Junction - 43.30' June 14, 1935 (319,000 cfs)
    near Mason - 46' June 14, 1935 (380,000 cfs)
    at Llano - 41.5' June 14, 1935 (380,000 cfs)

  • Colorado River -
    at Austin - 50.0' June 15, 1935 (481,000 cfs)
    at Bastrop - 57.0' June 16, 1935
    above LaGrange - 50.84' June 17, 1935 (255,000 cfs)
    at Columbus - 48.50' June 18, 1935 (190,000 cfs)
    at Wharton - 51.2' June 20, 1935 (159,000 cfs)
    near Bay City - 54.6' - June 22, 1935

  • West Nueces River -
    near Bracketville - 40.0' June 14, 1935 (550,000 cfs)

  • Nueces River -
    below Uvalde - 40.4' June 14, 1935 (616,000 cfs)

  • Rio Grande -
    at Laredo - 33.0' June 16, 1935

1936 - A hurricane had made landfall between Corpus Christi and Victoria June 27 and fell below depression intensity that night as it moved into the Frio River drainage near Leakey - A second tropical storm formed in the Bay of Campeche Sept 10, made landfall at Brownsville the morning of Sept 13, moved across deep south Texas before falling below depression intensity near Del Rio the afternoon of the 14th - This flooding rainfall was widespread over central Texas around the right side of the circulation. Not El Nino or La Nina year.

Worst hit was the city of San Angelo - From USGS Water-Supply Paper 816, published in 1937 - Tate Dalrymple and others -

"Rains exceeding 30 in. in some places fell during September over a large part of the Concho River drainage basin. Three separate flood peaks occurred on the main Concho River - Sept 15, 17, and 26, the flood of the 17th being the highest.

The city of San Angelo suffered greater damage than any other place in the State. On Sept 17, the discharge of the South Concho River reached a maximum of 111,000 cfs and caused stages which backed water up the North Concho River to the center of the city. Just as this water began to recede, the flood from the North Concho River with a peak discharge of 184,000 cfs reached the city. The river channel was inadequate for this enormous quantity of water and the river broke over its banks, flooding large areas of the residential and business sections of the city.

Below the mouth of the Llano River, the stages on the Colorado River during the floods of 1936 were much lower than the stages in the notable floods of 1935."

SAN ANGELO MORNING TIMES - SEPTEMBER 18 - "An insane burst of brown waters wrapped round the dust of a prolonged drought leaped the channels of the Concho Rivers here yesterday, hurled to destruction an approximate of 300 houses in all parts of town and left an uninsured flood damage of abut $1,500,000, the worst water damage in the history of this 68-year-old city. It is the major catastrophe of all time for San Angelo.

More than 100 persons were rescued from drowning on the streets or from flooded houses, while many hundreds more were removed under conditions less dangerous. There was an estimated 300 homeless families last night, who were sleeping in the schoolhouses and in other public buildings, in stores, while hotels were filled. Numerous buildings not destroyed were flooded and filled with silt.

The North Concho River, chief troublemaker of the day, charged drunkenly into the Negro and Mexican section, threw houses and shacks against the Sixth Street Bridge now under construction spread wanton piles of other wrecked houses here and there. Then it moved into the elite residential district, climbed a 40 ft cliff to run a stream knee deep in the home of Preston Rothrup. It tore the C.R. Hallmark home from its foundations, raced it over the Santa Fe Golf Course, and cracked it into matchwood at the submerged Millspaugh Bridge."

SAN ANGELO EVENING STANDARD - SEPTEMBER 18: "Perhaps the most dramatic episode of the flood in downtown San Angelo was the evacuation of approximately 75 persons from the Naylor Hotel, at Chadbourne and Concho, at mid-afternoon. A crowd of at least 1,000 persons witnessed the rescues. The water flowed 6 ft deep through the lobby of the hotel, which stands on the site of the old Landon Hotel, destroyed by fire. The 1906 flood had brought the water up to within 2 ft of the old Landon."

SAN ANGELO MORNING TIMES - SEPTEMBER 19 - "Rockwood, Coleman County,—Hundreds of farmers and their families were fleeing from the Colorado River bottoms near here tonight as the river reached a flood stage of 70 ft, 17 ft higher than ever known. The steel highway bridge at Stacy and the one here went out this afternoon under the hammering of heavy debris pounded against them by the turbulent flood.

Flood stage here is 35 ft. The previous high-water mark here was set in 1906, when the river reached 55.5 ft long time residents said."

SAN ANGELO STANDARD TIMES - SEPTEMBER 20: Brownwood, Sept 19—"The treacherous floodwaters of the Colorado River late today claimed their second victim when a farmer was drowned while attempting to save his livestock. The angry river was 2 mi wide at Indian Creek community, in Brown County, washing away a number of homes and barns. The flood stage climbed to 72 ft where the Brownwood-Brady Hwy bridge crosses the Colorado. This mark is 14 ft higher than any ever recorded before."

  • Brazos River -
    at Waco - 40.90' Sept 27, 1936 (246,000 cfs)
    near Highbank - 40.0' Sept 1936

  • Colorado River -
    near Stacy - 64.59' Sept 18, 1936 (356,000 cfs)
    at Winchell - 62.2' Sept 19, 1936
    near Bay City - 52.2' Oct 5, 1936

1938 - No tropical activity before flood in Texas - Mid-summer event when storms from westerly patterns are almost nonexistent - Nearly all heavy rain events in late July or August are tropical, but this one wasn't - May have been very weak front with stalled upper low ahead of it - Or some form of an easterly wave - Before La Nina winter of 1938-39

  • San Saba River -
    near Brady - 33.8' July 23, 1938

  • Colorado River -
    near San Saba - 62.24' July 23, 1938 (224,000 cfs)
    above LaGrange - 42.95' July 27, 1938 (200,000 cfs)
    at Wharton - 50.4' July 30, 1938 (145,000 cfs)
    near Bay City - 53.4' Aug 2, 1938

1948 - Tropical air from the Gulf streamed into the Devils/Pecos area several days before a 700-mb trough in the westerlies moved into the Dry Devils drainage above Loma Alta near 3 AM the morning of June 24, 1948 - Heavy rainfall moved northwest to southeast into the prevailing low level flow, indicating a mesoscale convective complex was set up with the first thunderstorms in the early morning hours - then the storms built into the oncoming low level jet from the Gulf through the day.

There were three rainfall centers - The first heavy rain (24.0 in.) was in the early morning hours until daybreak in the upper end of the Dry Devils drainage - The second between the lower Devils River and the Sycamore Creek drainages at Wardlaws Ranch of 28 in. during the morning daylight hours - And a third between the Sycamore and Pinto Creek drainages of 36.0 in. during the afternoon.

The river float gages hit the top of the gage houses at San Felipe Creek and the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass - Crests were obtained from high water marks - The flow at Eagle Pass rose to the IB&WC cable way seat and wrecked it - Downstream at Laredo the flow again reached the top of the IB&WC cableway. The floodways were activated above Brownsville/Matamoros and saved the cities from disastrous flooding.

Del Rio - Two persons drowned, 6 homes were destroyed, and 20 had major damage Eagle Pass - flow was 4 ft over the deck of the International Bridge, and much of the residential and business area between the river and downtown section flooded.

Laredo - flow was 2 ft over the International Bridge floor. Flooding was severe in the blocks adjoining the river, and flow backed up Chacon and Zacate Creeks.

  • San Felipe Creek -
    at Del Rio - 16.7' June 24, 1948 - Gage float hit gage house roof and stalled

  • Sycamore Creek -
    Hwy 85 bridge southeast of Del Rio - 32.7' (est 399,000 cfs)

  • Rio Grande -
    at Del Rio - 33.6' June 24, 1948 (475,000 cfs)
    at Eagle Pass - 46.92' (518,000 cfs) - float gage hit top of house at 40.85'
    at Laredo - 47.83' - (300,000 cfs)

1952 - Sept 11, 1952 - In the middle of the 6-year, worst in Texas history drought (1950 - spring of 1957), two disastrous floods occurred - One in Sept 1952 on the Pedernales and Guadalupe Rivers, and the other in June 1954 in the Devils/Pecos River and Rio Grande drainages.

Sept 1952 was after the El Nino winter of 1951-52 - There was no tropical activity in Texas the year of 1952. The Hwy 281 bridge at Johnson City on the Pedernales River was washed away and destroyed. Major flooding also passed down from the mid Guadalupe River.

  • Pedernales River -
    Johnson City - 42.50' Sept 11, 1952 (441,000 cfs)
    at Hamilton Pool Crossing - 452,000 cfs

  • Comal River -
    at New Braunfels - 36.14' Sept 11, 1952 (35,000 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    above Comal, New Braunfels - 30.70' Sept 11, 1952 (72,900 cfs)
    at New Braunfels - 32.0' Sept 11, 1952
    at Seguin - 33.90' Sept 11, 1952

1954 - Hurricane Alice formed as a tropical depression in the Bay of Campeche the early morning hours of June 24, 1954 - grew to hurricane intensity the afternoon of the 24th and made landfall 20 mi south of Brownsville late morning of the 25th. The system moved directly up the Rio Grande Valley before falling below depression intensity in the Devils/Pecos area the afternoon of the 25th.

Characteristic of Texas tropical systems - this one was most deadly at the stage it became dormant dynamically - It entered the "Core Rain" phase the evening/early morning hours of the 26th/27th. The Tom Everett Ranch on the Pecos River near Pandale and the Vic Pierce Ranch in Government Canyon between the Pecos and Devils River drainages, each received 35-in. centers in 36 hrs. The heavy rain was widespread over the Devils/Pecos area.

The first 35-in. center at the Tom Everett Ranch produced a crest of 1,050,000 cfs on the Pecos River at Pandale - Downstream near Comstock, 5.5 mi above the Rio Grande confluence, the first crest was at 7:30 AM 6/27, 82.0 ft, 695,000 cfs. The second crest was 1:30 AM 6/28, 96.24 ft and 948,000 cfs. It is estimated that 940,000 cfs of this crest was produced by the 3,504 mi2 of Pecos drainage below Sheffield - 268.26 cfs/mi2 over a major river drainage is a very large runoff rate.

The Devils River crested at 5:00 PM 6/28 at 34.76 ft, 585,000 cfs at Pafford Crossing 4.5 mi above the Rio Grande confluence. The two crests (Devils and Pecos) would be out of phase entering the Rio Grande thankfully, but still produced a crest of 1,140,000 cfs at Del Rio.

The crest was at 5:00 AM 6/29 at 53.51 ft, 964,000 cfs downstream at Eagle Pass. Flow was to the heads of parking meters in downtown Eagle Pass, and the International Bridge was destroyed as flow was near 10 ft over the floor - The Southern Pacific railway bridge over the river was destroyed, and much of Piedras Negras on the Mexican side was underwater with a tragically high number of drownings. The river was 3 mi wide at Eagle Pass; Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras line the river.

The crest at Laredo was 61.35 ft, 717,000 cfs, at 9:30 AM 6/30. Flow covered over 200 city blocks of Laredo and a like number in Nuevo Laredo. Flow went through the Mexican customs building in Nuevo Laredo. Houses and businesses flooded miles from the Rio Grande as flow backed up Chacon and Zacate Creeks. Flow was 15 ft over the International Bridge.

A fortuitous side of the event occurred downstream at Falcon Reservoir. The reservoir was completed in October 1953, and the gates closed to begin impounding water. In this very severe drought period, the reservoir was practically empty going into the June 1954 flood. The lowest elevation before the flood was June 16 at 252.11 ft, 377,700 acre-ft - conservation level 301.2 ft, 2,440,000 acre-ft.

The inflow crest was 528,000 cfs at 3:00 AM July 1, 1954.

Within 3 days after the onset of the flood wave, flow was approaching conservation level from a near-empty reservoir - a level hydrologists had predicted would take 3 to 4 years. The crest elevation would be an elevation of 292.94 ft, 2,179,300 acre-ft, July 18, 1954, the first time releases exceeded inflow.

1957 - April-May-June - That spring Texas was caught between an abnormally strong Bermuda high which extended into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and a persistent long wave trough over the western U.S. - Maritime cool fronts periodically pushed across the Central Plains but didn't move into central Texas shutting off the Gulf and eastern Pacific moisture - Upper lows persistently moved around the south periphery of the long
wave into Texas, bringing eastern Pacific moisture with them into the low-level jet off the Gulf flowing into central Texas.

All of north-central, northeast Texas, much of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana had 20 to 36 in. of rain in April-June. Most bridges on the Brazos River washed out in this long lived flooding period.

  • Big Sandy Creek-
    near Breckenridge - 24.60' Apr 29, 1957

  • Hubbard Creek -
    near Breckenridge - 34.00' May 26, 1957 (34,500 cfs)

  • Clear Fork Brazos River -
    at Eliasville - 35.0' May 1, 1957

  • Palo Pinto Creek -
    near Santo - 31.05' May 26, 1957 (45,100 cfs)

  • Brazos River -
    near Glen Rose - 33.89' May 27, 1957

  • Cow Bayou -
    near Mooresville - 23.88' May 11, 1957 (7,960 cfs)

  • Lampasas River -
    near Kempner - 37.0' May 13, 1957
    near Belton - May 1957 (83,500 cfs)

  • San Gabriel River -
    at Georgetown - 34.10' Apr 24, 1957 (155,000 cfs)

1957 - May 12, 1957 - Rainfall in the Sulphur Creek headwaters of 2.0 in. to a 12.0-in. center 5 mi west-southwest of Lampasas between 6:00 and 10:00 PM May 12, 1957, put nearly all of Lampasas underwater. A downtown restaurant today on Hwy 281 still notes the crest with a high-water mark on the front door about 5 ft from the floor.

Flooding was catastrophic as torrential flow slammed through stores, public buildings, and homes in the evening hours with terrific force. Autos were washed about like wood chips, and homes were destroyed. Extremely severe damage to homes, commercial and public property covered 68 city blocks. Four-hundred thirty families had losses to residences, of which 50 were totally destroyed. One-hundred sixty-eight businesses suffered major damage.

Five persons drowned - four in Lampasas, and one in Gunderland Park, a privately owned recreational park 2 mi below Lampasas.

Ten flood-retention dams in the headwaters of Sulphur Creek, on Pillar Bluff, Espey, Pitt, Hughs, Donaldson, and Burleson Creeks west of town, constructed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has prevented a repeat of the above disaster. Many flood prone communities across Texas have had flooding greatly diminished by NRCS retention dams, I.e., San Marcos and Boerne.

1967 - Sept 19 to 25, 1967 - Hurricane Beulah formed Sept 2, 1967 in the Atlantic just past the Virgin Islands - reached hurricane intensity as it moved into the Caribbean, and spent 2 weeks moving across the Caribbean and western Gulf before making landfall at Brownsville the morning of Sept 20, still at hurricane intensity. Residents of Falfurrias were evacuated as the track continued to the northwest as it moved inland. As the hurricane passed to just south of Alice, residents of Falfurrias began moving back in their homes. Then in the early morning hours of the 21st, the hurricane reversed its course and began moving south-southwest toward Mexico. Residents of Falfurrias were quickly evacuated a second time in the early morning hours.

As the hurricane lived 2-1/2 days over land, it spawned 11 rainfall centers over 20 in. between Victoria, Tex., and the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains of northern Mexico. There were four centers of 30 in. or more. Many south Texas streams still record the runoff from that event as their historical record flow.

The very warm, saturated, large tropical air mass spawned 115 tornadoes as far as Houston and Austin. Hwy 77 at Sarita, the main artery between Corpus Christi and Brownsville was closed 6 weeks by flooding. Goliad had homes flooded as the San Antonio River crested just at the south edge of downtown. The Hwy 59 bridge over Coleto Creek west of Victoria and the Hwy 281 bridge south of Three Rivers were destroyed. Much of the south Texas floodplain had several feet of sheet flow over tens or hundreds of square miles.

The high-water mark in Three Rivers was very visible. The town is built around an oil refinery. There was an oil ring all over town 5 to 6 ft deep. Three Rivers is so named because it is near the confluence of the Atascosa, Frio, and Nueces Rivers.

Roads, bridges, fences, livestock, homes and businesses were destroyed all over south Texas west of Victoria to the Rio Grande.

  • Coleto Creek -
    at Arnold Road Crossing near Schroeder - Sept 21, 1967 (122,000 cfs) - 357 mi2 - 341.74 cfs/mi2
    near Victoria at Hwy 59 - 42.0' Sept 22, 1967 (236,000 cfs)

  • San Antonio River -
    at Goliad - 53.7' Sept 23, 1967 (138,000 cfs)

  • Mission River -
    at Refugio - 36.5' Sept 21, 1967 (116,000 cfs)

  • Aransas River -
    near Skidmore - 42.22' Sept 22, 1967 (82,800 cfs)

  • Medio Creek -
    near Beeville - 38.68' Sept 22, 1967 (105,000 cfs) - 204 mi2 - 514.7 cfs/mi2

  • Ecleto Creek -
    near Runge - 33.3' Sept 22, 1967 (58,400 cfs)

  • Escondido Creek -
    at Kenedy - 25.48' Sept 22, 1967 (37,000 cfs)

  • Nueces River -
    near Tilden - 26.57' Sept 24, 1967 (76,500 cfs)
    at Timmons - 43.21' Sept 25, 1967 (72,000 cfs)
    near Three Rivers - 49.21' Sept 23, 1967 (141,000 cfs)
    near Mathis - 47.7' - Sept 24, 1967 (138,000 cfs)

  • Frio River -
    at Calliham - 36.15' Sept 23, 1967 (57,000 cfs)

  • Atascosa River -
    at Whitsett - 41.3' Sept 23, 1967 (121,000 cfs)

  • San Diego Creek -
    at Alice - 16.35' Sept 23, 1967 (14,000 cfs)

  • San Fernando Creek -
    at Alice - 15.86' Sept 23, 1967 (16,900 cfs)

  • Los Olmos Creek -
    near Falfurrias - 11.79' Sept 24, 1967 (3,380 cfs)

  • Rio Grande -
    near Progreso - 24.84' Sept 26, 1967 (60,700 cfs) - datum mean sea level
    near San Benito - 61.05' Sept 29, 1967 (25,000 cfs) - datum mean sea level

1970 - May 14 to 15, 1970 - Heavy rain began in the Sink, Purgatory, Limekiln, and Willow Springs watersheds near San Marcos near 6:00 PM May 14, 1970. By 3:00 PM May 15, rainfall would range from 6.0 in. at the Sink and Purgatory Creek headwaters to 18.0 in. at radio station KCNY in downtown San Marcos. The heaviest period was midnight to 6 AM of the 15th.

Disastrous flooding began after 8 AM and crested near 11 AM of the 15th. Four-hundred five homes were severely flooded, and many more businesses and public buildings. Three elementary schools were flooded, and students from one were rescued from the roof by helicopter. Two children drowned when the small aluminum boat they were being rescued in overturned.

The Aquarena Springs Administrative Building had 6 ft of water in it. The National Guard was de-activated as their facilities flooded. The armory had several feet of water in it. Many hundreds of cars were washed about and destroyed as tens of ft of turbulent flow covered many city streets.

Five flood-retention dams built by the NRCS prevented additional severe flooding down these drainages. These structures prevented much of the city from being destroyed recently in the October 1998 flood when 20 in. to more than 30 in. of rain fell over the entire drainages.

1972 - May 11, 1972 - Heavy rain began falling over eastern Comal County near 8 PM May 11, 1972, and by midnight, a center of 16.5 in. was measured on the Guadalupe River exactly halfway between New Braunfels and Canyon Lake Dam.

The first flood wave came down Blieders Creek, passing into the Comal River at Landa Park in New Braunfels. The Comal River gage at San Antonio Street at the Tube Chute Park crested at 11:45 PM May 11 at 36.55 ft, 60,800 cfs from the Blieders Creek flood. It would crest again at 5:30 AM May 12 at 35.45 ft, 55,800 cfs from the flood down Dry Comal Creek which heads in the western part of Comal County.

The Guadalupe River above the Comal River confluence (at Common St.) crested at 31.65 ft, 92,600 cfs probably near 12:30 to 1 AM May 12. The New Braunfels gage (at the "Factory Mall") crested at 38.0 ft.

Residents and business owners were under the false illusion that Canyon Dam, 20 mi upstream, would protect them from flooding. This storm fit almost exactly in the Guadalupe River drainage below Canyon Dam. Homes washed downstream in New Braunfels and Seguin. Many homes were seriously damaged or destroyed in the floodplains along Lakes Dunlap and McQueeney. Treasure Island is an exclusive residential area built on an island in Lake McQueeney. All the homes, probably over a hundred very expensive homes, flooded.

Fifteen persons drowned, eight along the Comal River, and seven on the Guadalupe in New Braunfels. Autos were washed and stacked like cord wood.

  • Comal River -
    at New Braunfels - 36.55' May 11, 1972 11:45 PM (60,800 cfs)
    35.45' May 12, 1972 4:30 AM (55,800 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    at New Braunfels (above Comal Springs) - 31.65' May 12, 1972 (92,600 cfs)
    at New Braunfels (below Comal Springs) - 38.0' May 12, 1972
    at Seguin - 32.5' May 12, 1972

1978 - August 2, 1978 - Tropical Storm Amelia formed in the western Gulf of Mexico, southeast of Brownsville the evening hours of July 30, 1978, never was officially raised to hurricane intensity, and made landfall near Port Isabel that evening.

As the system moved into the Texas Hill Country the evening of July 31, it dropped below depression intensity, a very dangerous phase in Texas flooding history. Showers and periods of heavy rain began falling west and northwest of San Antonio August 1st. Disastrous heavy rain fell the evening of Aug 1st/early morning hours of Aug 2nd.

Roland Manatt, in the Rocky Creek drainage along the divide between the Medina and Guadalupe Rivers, 8 mi northwest of Medina, measured 48 in. of rain in 52 hrs. He began measuring in a vegetable can which rapidly became tiresome in the sometimes over 4 in/hr intensities. He switched to a large fruit juice can and stayed awake over 2 days and nights measuring the rain. He said he dozed off a few times and let the can overflow - so the 48 in. is to be considered a lower limit.

Charles Voss, in the same area, measured 42.0 in. during the same period; Joe Ortiz 35.0 in.; Heneary Heinen 31.0 in. The National Weather Service cooperative observer, John Derry, the postmaster at Medina, measured 32.0 in. during 24 hrs ending at 7 AM Aug 2nd.

This was another example of "Core Rains," as was Hurricane Alice, and the 1921 Thrall storm. The heaviest rain was during the early morning hours at the storm center. The storm would drop a 32.5-in. center in 24 hrs near Albany in north Texas ending at 7 AM Aug 4th.

During daylight hours, these tropical systems disperse into scattered thunderstorms as solar radiation heats the top of the air mass and stabilizes it. During nighttime hours, the top of the tropical air mass cools and destabilizes it. The instability entrains into a "core" at the center of the system.

The Guadalupe River at Bandera crested at 46.62 ft Aug 2, 1978; 19 ft over the Hwy 173 bridge in Bandera. Disastrous flooding also passed down the Guadalupe River below Hunt to Canyon Lake. The Guadalupe River at Comfort crested at 40.90 ft, 240,000 cfs. Twenty-seven persons drowned in the Texas Hill Country. Of these, only three drowned in automobiles. The others drowned in their homes or trying to rescue cattle. Nearly all were elderly (over 60) or young (under 12).

One example told by Mr. Thompson, the caretaker of Camp Bandina, a Church of Christ recreational camp on the Medina River below Medina - Warnings were issued and the people left their homes beside the Medina River. A large flood wave passed through and receded. A family of four in a Volkswagon bus returned to their home to load belongings in the bus. They were loaded, in the bus and ready to leave when they noticed they didn't have their dog. As they got out to find the dog, a second wave came down and swept all four downstream. The dog almost certainly was on the bluff watching them as they were swept downstream.

In all, eight persons drowned at Camp Bandina. Many homes washed downstream at that site. Mr. Thompson participated in the search afterwards and said the only way they found some bodies was to look where buzzards were circling overhead.

An additional seven people drowned in Albany as Hubbard Creek washed through town in the early morning hours. Many people were picked from trees and saved.

  • Medina River -
    at Bandera - 46.62' Aug 2, 1978 (550,000 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    Hunt - 23.5' Aug 2, 1978 (62,900 cfs)
    above Bear Creek at Kerrville - 32.79' Aug 3, 1978
    at Comfort - 40.90' Aug 2, 1978 (240,000 cfs)
    near Spring Branch - 45.25' Aug 3, 1978 (160,000 cfs)

  • Pedernales River -
    near Fredericksburg - 41.6' Aug 2, 1978
    at Johnson City - 24.90' Aug 3, 1978 (127,000 cfs)

1979 - Tropical Storm Claudette formed in the central Atlantic the morning of July 15, 1979. It never reached hurricane intensity as it wandered across the northern Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico 10 days, making landfall near Port Arthur the evening of the 24th.

The storm veered left and stalled over Alvin the evening/early morning hours of the 25th/26th. This was a weak tropical storm and went through the "Core Rain" phase during that period. An observer 3.2 mi northwest of Alvin reported 8.0 in. during 4 hrs - 19.0 in. during 9 hrs, 30 minutes - 32.25 in. during 13 hrs, 47 minutes - 42.0 in. during 19 hrs - and a storm total of 45.0 in. during 42 hrs ending at 6 AM July 27th.

1981 - May 24, 1981 - Shoal Creek Flood - A mesoscale convective complex formed over north Texas and southern Oklahoma the evening hours of May 23 - during the night the outflow boundary pushed through central and south Texas to the Gulf Coastal Bend near 7 AM.

During the evening hours of May 24th, thunderstorms formed west and north of Austin as a short wave trough moved through central Texas ahead of a slower moving long wave and with a frontal passage west to east across the area - Storm movement was very slow.

An intense thunderstorm formed just west of Barton Springs near 8 PM, and moved slowly north-northeast across the Colorado River and up Shoal Creek into the upper Walnut Creek drainage by 11 PM. Torrential rain fell between 8 and 11:30 PM in these drainages.

The Shoal Creek drainage received 4 to 6 in. on the lower half below Anderson Lane - and 6 to 10 in. on the upper half above Anderson Lane between 8 and 11:30 PM. The Balcones Research Center in the headwaters of Shoal Creek recorded a 1-hr intensity of 4.44 in., a 1-1/2 hr total of 5.59 in., and a storm total of 7.55 in. The headwaters of Walnut and Little Walnut Creeks received 6 to 10 in.

Five-hundred fifty cars washed from six auto dealerships along Lamar Boulevard near and below W. 6th Street. These autos formed a damming effect on Shoal Creek above the Colorado River and greatly increased flooding in the Shoal Creek drainage below W. 12th Street. Over 5,000 cars were stranded around Austin during the night. Many were washed down creeks, some into Lake Austin in the West Lake Hills area from the south side.

A dozen businesses were destroyed and hundreds of homes severely flooded the length of Shoal Creek and much of Walnut Creek. A few homes along Shoal Creek were knocked from their foundations by the raging flow. Thirteen persons drowned, all in autos except two persons along Shoal Creek who drowned trying to escape their home as the flood wave slammed through.

  • Shoal Creek -
    Steck Avenue - 8.9' 11:00 PM May 24
    Northwest Park - 18.0' 11:00 PM May 24
    White Rock Drive - 18.7' 11:20 PM 5/24
    W. 12th Street - 23.3' 11:40 PM 5/24

  • Walnut Creek -
    Dessau Rd - 26.20' May 25, 1981 (21,600 cfs)
    at Webberville Rd - 27.24' May 25 04:15 AM (14,300 cfs)

  • Little Walnut Creek -
    at IH-35 - 12.0' (7,000 cfs)
    at Manor Rd - 19.60' (14,500 cfs)

1981 - Aug 30 to 31, 1981 - Halletsville Flood - A minimal tropical depression made landfall just south of Brownsville Aug 29, moved up the Rio Grande Valley to just east of Laredo the AM of the 30th, veered north to just south of San Antonio the evening of the 30th, and was near Seguin near midnight of the 30th. The storm moved east north east to north of Houston late afternoon, the 31st. An area of heavy rain 50 to 75 mi wide and 200 mi long fell between Seguin and north of Houston, as the center moved across.

Area rainfall: Cheapside 18.00 in., Hochheim 17.50 in., Gonzales 16.31 in., Moulton 9.00 in., Shiner 7.00 in., Geronimo 10.11 in., Muldoon 17.00 in., 3 SE Karnes City 16.29 in., Schulenburg 9.48 in.

Flow was 5 ft deep on the town square in Halletsville - Flow came up so quickly near daybreak that some vehicles couldn't be moved from the town square - Prisoners had to be evacuated very quickly from the county jail - Ninety percent of the business district and 70 percent of homes in Halletsville flooded. Three young boys drowned along Rocky Creek when their home was swept away in Shiner. Two men drowned in a low-water crossing when their pickup truck was swept downstream near Shiner.

This was disastrous flooding down the Lavaca and Guadalupe Rivers - Major flooding down the Colorado River near LaGrange from heavy flow down Buckners Creek.

  • Guadalupe River -
    at Cuero - 41.83' Sept 1, 1981 (132,000 cfs)
    at Victoria - 31.10' Sept 2, 1981 (105,000 cfs)

  • Lavaca River -
    at Halletsville - 41.1' Aug 31, 1981 (99,500 cfs)
    at Edna - 28.57' Sept 2, 1981 (37,300 cfs)

1984 - Oct 19, 1984 - Odem Flood - An upper low moved across the Rio Grande Valley at Laredo near 7 AM Oct 19th with thunderstorms dropping centers to 2.50 in. - By noon the low remained intact and had moved over Tilden, still with isolated centers to near 2.50 in. - At this point the low moved southeast and moved across George West near 3 PM, still with intense thunderstorms, still moving 20 to 25 mph, still dropping heavy rain centers - Texas was in an intense drought from the summer of 1983 to that period, and the rain was good news.

The lead forecaster at the San Antonio National Weather Service Field Office, Larry Eblen, received two phone calls that evening that the Nueces River was running from Calallen to Mathis (upstream, uphill).

Intense rainfall and flooding reports became so severe and observers so sparse in the area that the Corpus Christi weather office issued a request over Corpus Christi radio stations for people in the Odem-Sinton area to call rainfall reports to the Corpus Christi office. One observer in Odem received 24.0 in. during 3 hrs, 45 minutes. An observer a block and a half down the street received 25.5 in. during the same time period - between 4:00 and 7:45 PM.

A railroad track in Odem acted as a low water dam until it "breached" - Sheet flow about 3 ft deep flowed across the coastal plain from Odem to Sinton, and rapidly put over half of Sinton underwater. There were no fatalities, but one disabled person was rescued in waist deep water.

The dynamics were strong low-level convergence between the sea breeze and a weak front moving southward through the area. The upper-level divergence was provided as the upper low moved over the front at Odem and stalled because the mesoscale lift and dynamics completely overpowered anything of a larger scale. The rainfall was in a very tight center. Bluntzer, 12 mi west of Odem received 23.0 in. Alice, 25 mi west of Odem received .06 in., Beeville, 33 mi north .05 in., and the National Weather Service at Corpus Christi, 13 mi south-southeast, .04 in.

This was a strange evening - The weather detachment at Randolph Air Force Base, when asked of flooding problems, reported only that their Air Police were picking up drowned ducks on the base - When asked how a duck could drown, they reported that the only thing they could come with was that the ducks were looking up during the heavy rain (3.50-in. total) - Either that or the Air Force was pulling the NWS's leg.

1987 - May 31 to June 13, 1987 - A long-wave trough the first half of May extended from western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle southwest across New Mexico into the Sonoran Desert of Mexico. Eastern New Mexico (Hobbs and Carlsbad) received severe flooding during the period.

By the latter week of May, the long wave had moved eastward over west Texas. Upper lows moved around the southern periphery and directly across central Texas. As these lows moved into the confluence of the mid- and upper-level water vapor plume off the eastern Pacific across Texas and the low-level jet from the Gulf into central Texas, the upper lows intensified tremendously. A series of these storms moved over the area for 2 weeks (May 31-June 13), producing a series of major floods.

The total flow volume down the rivers from the Brazos to the Nueces Rivers totaled 8,800,000 acre-ft. Some superlatives - A Texas DPS trooper was picked from his auto by a Texas Mobile Army Surgical Transport (MAST) helicopter near 1 PM where Leon Creek crosses IH-10 at the site of the current Fiesta Texas theme park. Rescued in the same vicinity was a TxDot worker from his truck. The flooding began upstream just west of Leon Springs when children from a daycare had to be rescued in waist deep water during the late morning. The jet engine test facility downstream at Kelly AFB had 3 ft of water inside it by late afternoon. Several homes and horse barns flooded along Leon Creek below Kelly AFB.

Canyon Lake rose to 942.64 ft on June 20, 1987 - and for the first time had water flowing into the emergency spillway. Flow didn't pass through the spillway (occurs at 943.0 ft) but seeped part of the way across.

Medina Lake rose to 1,078.2 ft, 6.2 ft over the spillway elevation of 1,072 ft. This put up to 4 ft of water in about 50 homes at the upper end of the lake at Whartons Dock and Alamo Beach. Downstream, in Bexar County, homes and businesses below LaCoste, near Von Ormy and Somerset flooded severely.

Thirty to forty homes in Seguin flooded from Walnut Creek, a minor creek that flows into Seguin from the northwest. An apartment complex just north of Hwy 90 had 2 ft of water in it. A dozen homes flooded in D'Hanis, requiring some rescues by helicopter from rooftops on May 29. Heavy rain fell again on June 3, scaring people but not flooding homes.

In Tilden, the Frio River flooded many homes and businesses. A well-known restaurant on State Hwy 16 at the Frio River had 2 ft to 3 ft of water in it twice - June 5th and 9th. A small amount of water also rose into the restaurant June 17th.

May 30th, up to 10 in. of rain fell in Las Moras Creek above Bracketville in Kinney County. Six in. fell in an hour. Las Moras Creek flooded much of the town with water up to waist deep in some homes and apartments.

Flooding in the Guadalupe River was disastrous. In Gonzales, the Guadalupe River backed up Tinsley Creek. As the creek moved runoff down it, over the Guadalupe River back flow, homes flooded along the creek in Gonzales.

At Cuero, Hwys 87 and 183 west and south of town were flooded and closed. Near Thomaston, 10 mi downstream from Cuero, nearly 100 homes had up to 9 ft of water in them in the River Oaks, River Haven, and Oak Haven subdivisions.

In Victoria, 20 homes flooded, and a 20-block area of the west side was cut off. Fifty people had to be evacuated in the Riverside Park and Greens Addition area. The city zoo, park, and golf course were severely flooded.

The San Antonio River at Goliad completely submerged recreational areas of Goliad State Park, and water was within inches of closing the Hwy 183 bridge.

  • Medina River -
    at Bandera - 21.94' May 29
    Medina Lake - 1,078.2' (spillway 1,072.0') May 29
    LaCoste - 22.41' May 30
    Somerset - 28.17' - May 30

  • Colorado River -
    Bastrop - 26.44' June 5; 29.45' June 14 (52,400 cfs)
    Columbus - 25.29' June 6; 27.57' June 16
    Wharton - 39.37' June 8; 41.48' June 17 (51,600 cfs)
    Bay City - 34.43' June 17 (50,500 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    Gonzales - 34.70' (flood stage 20') June 5; 30.00' June 13
    Cuero - 40.10' June 6 (102,000 cfs); 31.45' June 15
    Victoria - 30.45' June 7 (83,400 cfs); 29.26' June 16
    Dupont - 28.20' June 8; 27.20' June 17

  • Leon Creek -
    SW Loop 13 (Kelly AFB) - 21.90' June 11
    IH-35 - 22.36' June 11

  • San Antonio River -
    near Falls City - 24.20' June 4; 24.00' June 7; 20.96' June 15
    at Goliad - 43.08' June 7; 40.56' June 15

  • Frio River -
    near Derby - 17.29' May 31; 16.46' June 5; 12.10' June 13
    at Tilden - 28.41' June 5; 29.18' June 9; 27.61' June 17

1987 - July 17, 1987 - Bus Tragedy Flood - During the mid-evening hours of July 16, 1987, an upper low moved out of Mexico, across the Rio Grande south of Del Rio, moving east-northeast into Texas. As the low moved north of Bracketville at 20 to 30 mph, an observer reported a rainfall total of 6.00 in. The upper low disappeared from radar and satellite displays as it moved into Real County.

A very weak cool front (middle of July) was moving south through Junction during the evening hours of July 16. There were no temperature contrasts, just dewpoint differences. The upper low made itself known as it moved into western Kerr County in the form of very heavy rain in the headwaters of the North and South Forks of the Guadalupe River at 11:45 PM June 16. By 4:30 AM June 17, there would be an 11.0-in. rainfall center at Mo-Ranch, 10 mi west of Hunt.

There is an unofficial river network on the upper Guadalupe River. Boss Merritt lives in the headwaters of the South Fork. At 1:30 AM he was concerned enough by the rapidly rising flow to dangerous conditions that he began calling the recreation camps below him. Dick Eastland, manager at Camp Mystic, received a call and he and his staff began moving canoes, life jackets, and gear from their docks. By 1:45 AM the flow was so high they abandoned the docks and rushed to higher ground.

Downstream, 2 mi above Hunt, Ron Duke had built a house on stilts on the left bank of the South Fork, about 50 yards from the river. He went to bed that evening with his pickup parked beside the pilings supporting his home 20 ft in the air. A banging awakened him at 2:30 the morning of the 17th. He rushed outside on his deck and fell through the partially missing deck into the Guadalupe River. Ron was able to pull himself back onto his deck. The banging was the sound of his pickup against the pilings 19 ft above the ground. The river would continue rising to 1-1/2 ft above the deck before it began receding.

Firefighters were not able to get to him because Hwys 27 and 39 were flooded in many places. As the water receded, a ladder truck was able to get to his home and shoot a ladder horizontally from Hwy 39 to his deck.

Flooding was widespread along the North and South Forks in the recreation camps, roads, and bridges. Most camps flooded severely with many ft of water in them.

However, no lives were lost in the headwaters as the Guadalupe River at Hunt crested at 28.4 ft (flood stage 12 ft) at 4:30 AM. The fatalities would occur 30 mi downstream near Comfort. Three hrs later at 7:40 AM, a church group from Balch Springs near Dallas was scheduled to leave to return home. The assistant pastor, Mr. Koons, made the decision to leave.

The caravan was led by a pickup truck driven by the Pot O' Gold Baptist Church Camp caretaker, Mr. Roy Harris. Second was a school bus, and third, a van. As Mr. Harris drove through the gate leading out of the property, he did not see any water anywhere. By the time he had driven 200 to 300 yards, he had 1-1/2 ft of water over the bottom of his pickup. The school bus made it about 75 yards from the camp gate to where it should have crossed a cattle guard and turned left away from the river onto a farm-to-market road. The school bus stalled at this point (the cattle guard) from the high water and trapped the van behind it.

Mr. Koons, driving the bus, deliberated for seconds and ordered the kids to leave the bus and try to make it the 75 to 100 yards back to a ridge where the gate they had just passed through was. None made it. They were all washed downstream through the trees and barbed wire fences. Within 2 hrs, 15 DPS, MAST, and news helicopters were circling within a 1-mi radius. Of the 43 kids and counselors washed downstream, 10 drowned. One young man washed onto a deer hung in a barbed wire fence. As the boy grabbed the deer, he freed it, and the deer pulled him to shore. Another young man was never found.

The media intensity was extreme the next day as they descended on the youth pastor who made the decision to leave that morning. The group was exactly at the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. A few seconds earlier and they escape the worst of the flood wave. A few seconds later, and they see the floodwaters and don't drive into them. The flood wave didn't come at the group directly from river at their site. It escaped the river channel upstream and came down an old historical channel and "flanked" them from the left.

On behalf of the 43 kids, only three lawsuits were filed. A dispute arose as these three families sued the church camp and the Kerr County Sheriffs Department. The church camp said they weren't notified of the flooding. The Sheriffs Department said a call was made to the camp at 2 AM and again at 6 AM that morning. The incident was at 7:40 AM. The NWS issued the first Flash Flood Warning at 1:45 AM and the first river Flood Warning at 2:30 AM. The litigation was settled out of court and the results not made public.

  • Guadalupe River, North Fork -
    near Hunt - 29.30' July 17 (53,700 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    at Hunt - 28.38' July 17 (107,800 cfs)
    at Comfort - 31.50' July 17 (130,000 cfs)

1989 - May 17 to 18, 1989 - An upper trough oriented southwest to northeast moved slowly across central Texas the early and mid-morning hours of May 17. By evening of the 17th, the trough was dropping heavy rain in a band from eastern Harris County to the upper end of Toledo Bend Reservoir as the trough stalled and set up "train effect" rainfall.

Thunderstorms were moving at 20 to 25 mph, but training over the same area for 12 hrs ending 7 AM May 18th. Some totals: Houston Intercontinental Airport 10.36 in., Conroe 13SSE 13.10 in., Tomball 7.41 in., Conroe 5 SW (Woodlands) 8.00 in., New Caney 11.89 in., New Waverly 9.20 in., Cleveland 12.83 in., Liberty 14.00 in., Batson 12.00 in., Thicket 11.00 in., Kountze 9.20 in., Kirbyville 6.32 in., Warren 6.00 in., Woodville 13.40 in., Orange 10.00 in., Port Arthur 9.30 in., Bridge City 15.00 in.

Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Houston both reached record elevations. Toledo Bend was releasing 30,000 cfs of flow through the gates going into the event as they already had a high pool. With the 10.0 to 17.0 in. directly on the drainage into the upper end of the lake, water rose extremely quickly in the reservoir to a record level of 173.90 ft by midnight May 18, previous record 173.42 ft.

Record flow was observed below the dam at Burkeville. Gage readings by the regular satellite telemetry were doubtful, so a USGS technician left Houston, crossed the Sabine River downstream at Orange, drove up the Louisiana side to Burkeville and waded through 1 to 2 ft of water to get out to the bridge and read the wire weight. The river gage indicated a crest of 48.90 ft, but the wire weight reading was only 47.45 ft - still a flood of record, exceeding the previous record of 44.20 ft Sept 14, 1967.

Nearly a hundred homes flooded in the River Road housing subdivision just below Toledo Bend Dam on the left bank. Water was to the roof of one two-story home. Several additional homes flooded downstream at Deweyville.

Hundreds of homes flooded on Cypress Creek and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River above Lake Houston, some to 6 ft inside the homes. Lake Houston crested at a record 49.60 ft, above the 49.43 ft of April 1979. Thousands of homes flooded in the Banana Bend and Highlands floodplains of the San Jacinto River below Lake Houston. Hundreds of homes flooded and thousands of people were evacuated along Greens Bayou in Houston and Peach and Caney Creeks in Montgomery County. Over 400 people were evacuated in Liberty County, and hundreds of homes flooded as the Trinity River was 10 mi wide between Liberty and Dayton.

Bevil Oaks, in the Pine Island Bayou drainage, had 11 homes flood.

  • Pine Island Bayou -
    near Sour Lake - 33.70' May 22, 1989

  • Sabine River -
    near Burkeville - 47.45' May 20, 1989 (116,000 cfs)

  • San Jacinto River -
    near Sheldon - 20.08' May 19, 1989 (111,000 cfs)

  • West Fork San Jacinto River
    near Porter - 29.76' May 18, 1989 (30,000 cfs)

1991 - Dec 18 to 23, 1991 - Christmas Flood - A stalled long wave Dec 18th over Arizona extended into the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico. The upper low was reflected at the surface along the Arizona/Mexico border. A series of cold air masses pushed from the Pacific Northwest across the Central Plains into the southeastern U.S.

A cold-air-induced surface high was centered over Georgia. A stationary front in central Texas marked the southern periphery of the cold air masses moving across the Central Plains. At low levels, clockwise flow around the southeastern high brought a long fetch of very warm moist air across the Gulf, across the Texas Coastal Bend, and into central Texas as a low-level jet. The weather station at Corpus Christi measured 850 mph winds of 60 to 70 knots from about 160 to 170 degrees for the duration of the storm. The low-level jet slammed into the stationary front across central Texas as a trigger mechanism.

At upper levels, the long wave in the west induced a water vapor plume from the eastern Pacific across Mexico into Texas. Tremendous rain and flooding occurred at and south of the confluence of the upper vapor plume, the low-level jet, and the surface stationary front. The heaviest rain was 16 to 18 in. on an area from Llano to Bandera to Boerne. The 6-in. isohyetal extended from the Red River north of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex - to near Coleman - to between Bracketville and Uvalde - to near Corpus Christi - to near Palestine - to the Red River.

This was not a historic event in terms of large rainfall totals. But in terms of total rain volume that fell from the sky in one event, this certainly was one of the largest in Texas recorded history, if not the largest. Certainly it rivals Hurricane Beulah, the June 1935, Hurricane Alice in 1954, and the June 1987 floods.

Record flooding moved down the San Gabriel and Little Rivers into the Brazos River above Bryan. The Brazos River was 5 mi wide west of Bryan and College Station. The Navasota River was well over 1 mi wide in Grimes and Brazos Counties. A huge lake over 10 mi long by 10 mi wide was created above the confluence of the Navasota and Brazos Rivers above Washington on the Brazos State Park. High areas were above the water, but most areas flooded.

Downstream, the Brazos River and Oyster Creek merged as the Brazos River flowed over the left floodplain near Harris Reservoir. Thousands of previously unsuspecting home owners were flooded as Oyster Creek became several miles wide in Brazoria County. Residential flooding was widespread above Simonton to the Gulf in Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties. In the Valley Lodge Subdivision near Simonton, most of the 200 homes flooded, some a half mile from the river. Five-hundred homes suffered serious flood damage in Brazoria County. Two-hundred forty-five of 250 homes flooded in Holiday Lakes Estates between East Columbia and Angleton.

Flooding was disastrous also in the Colorado River drainage. Very high flows down the Pedernales and Colorado Rivers into the Highland Lakes system put a tremendous amount of storage into them. The problem was, managers could not release water from Lake Travis because disastrous floodwaters were flowing from Walnut, Onion, and all the other creeks flowing into the Colorado River below Lake Travis. Onion Creek at Hwy 183 crested at 30.50 ft, a record since a recording gage was installed March 1976. The Pedernales River severely flooded and damaged LBJ National Park at Stonewall. Flow just seeped over the stone wall at the Johnson Family Cemetery.

The Lower Colorado River Authority could do nothing but store all the very high inflow. Lake Travis quickly rose to a record elevation of 710.44 ft Dec 26, 1991. Nearly 400 homes flooded around Lake Travis with up to 22 ft of water over the lowest slabs.

Downstream, a few homes flooded near Bastrop as the Colorado River crested at a record 37.48 ft. Between Bastrop and Smithville, the Hidden Valley Estates, the Doty River Estates, and the Pecan Shores subdivisions had several tens of homes flooded up to nearly 9 ft. In LaGrange, the Fritsch Auf subdivision had over 10 homes flooded up to 6 ft.

Two homes flooded in Columbus. Downstream, 15 homes flooded up to 2 to 3 ft in Wharton. Much worse flooding was spared because the flooding escaped over the left floodplain upstream near Garwood into a widespread area of farmland.

The Guadalupe River had severe flooding. Two homes flooded near Cuero, and downstream near Thomaston in the River Haven subdivision, three homes flooded.

In Victoria, eight city blocks of the Greens Addition in the west part flooded, and also the city park, zoo, and golf course. Downstream, the Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers were several miles wide near their confluence near Tivoli. Some ranchers would feed their cattle by boat on floodwaters into June.

1991 was an El Nino year. This flood would be followed by a series of floods a week or 10 days apart into late May or early June. Emergency spillways on every flood-control reservoir on the Brazos River would be spilling 2 to 3 ft by mid-March. Water stood in the fields between storms from late December into early June in many areas, mainly in the Brazos and Colorado River drainages below Austin to the Gulf.

The Edwards aquifer would crest at a record 703.2 ft elevation June 14, 1992.

  • Little River -
    near Rockdale - 38.34' Dec 21, 1991

  • San Gabriel River -
    near Rockdale - 35.74' Dec 21, 1991 (39,000 cfs)

  • Brazos River -
    near Bryan - 43.93' Dec 23, 1991 (163,000 cfs)
    at Washington 48.00' Dec 26, 1991

  • Navasota River -
    near Easterly - 27.22' Dec 22, 1991 (61,800 cfs)
    near Bryan - 19.97' Dec 23, 1991 (66,600 cfs)

  • Brazos River -
    near Hempstead - 53.00' Dec 28, 1991 (116,000 cfs)
    at Richmond - 49.68' Jan 1, 1992 (119,000 cfs)
    near Rosharon - 51.89' Jan 3, 1992 (82,700 cfs)

  • San Bernard River -
    near Boling - 30.19' (8,890 cfs)

  • Pedernales River -
    near Fredericksburg - 32.09' Dec 20, 1991 (49,900 cfs)
    near Johnson City - 21.86' Dec 21, 1991 (89,000 cfs)

  • Onion Creek -
    near Driftwood - 15.99' Dec 20, 1991 (18,650 cfs)
    at U.S. Hwy 183 - 30.50' Dec 21, 1991 (44,200 cfs)

  • Walnut Creek -
    at Webberville Rd - 26.99' Dec 20, 1991 (10,200 cfs)

  • Colorado River -
    at Bastrop - 37.48' Dec 22, 1991 (79,600 cfs)
    above LaGrange - 43.32' Dec 23, 1991 (88,200 cfs)
    at Wharton - 45.31' Dec 27, 1991 (61,900 cfs)
    near Bay City - 38.90' Dec 27, 1991 (69,600 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    at Gonzales - 35.01' Dec 22, 1991 (flood stage 20')
    near Cuero - 37.68' Dec 24, 1991 (72,200 cfs)
    at Victoria - 30.13' Dec 25, 1991 (61,500 cfs)

  • San Antonio River -
    near Elmendorf - 39.06' Dec 22, 1991 (19,300 cfs)
    near Falls City - 19.29' Dec 23, 1991 (20,200 cfs)
    at Goliad - 41.58' Dec 25, 1991 (27,500 cfs)

1993 - May 5, 1993 Cinco de Mayo Flood - An upper low or "disturbance" moved north-northeast into south Texas around a long wave trough over the western U.S.

By 7 AM, the disturbance had formed a closed low aloft as it moved into Bexar County. There were two "spiral bands" around it. The cold-core low would change into a warm-core tropical-like system through the day as it spit out up to over 8 in. of rain in San Antonio. The upper low stalled over San Antonio, and two spiral bands moved through the city during the day, much as a "mesoscale" hurricane.

The first band went through the southeastern part of Bexar County and dropped over 4.0 in. between 8:30 and 10 AM. A man washed from Broadway Street near the Austin Hwy into the San Antonio River and drowned. Autos were flooded in parking lots, and streets were rivers. A second band moved through northern San Antonio between 1 and 4 PM, dropping another 4 in. over some areas. Woods of Shavano wound up with 8.03 in., most in the afternoon.

Several blocks of homes in northern San Antonio flooded due to poor drainage in the minor creeks through the area. An elderly couple drowned where Elm Creek crosses Lockhill-Selma Street as their car was swept downstream. Downstream, Olmos Creek put several inches of water in the HEB Supermarket at West Avenue and NE Loop 410. Several other businesses in that shopping center flooded.

Salado Creek crested at a record elevation, putting a few businesses in the Los Patios shopping center above Loop 410 underwater. Flow was within 6 in. of flooding the NE Loop 410 bridge floor. Most of a KOA Campground downstream on Gembler Street was evacuated.

  • Olmos Creek -
    at Dresden Drive - 12.30' May 5, 1993 (13,860 cfs)

  • Salado Creek -
    at NE Loop 410 - 15.91' May 5, 1993 (28,100 cfs)
    SE Loop 13 - 27.04' May 6, 1993 (10,200 cfs)

1994 - Oct 18, 1994 - The remnants of Hurricane Rosa moved across south Texas very rapidly on the 15th, and caused no flooding problems. Behind Rosa, precipitable water was in excess of 2.00 in. over much of south and southeast Texas on the 16th. A surface high over the southeastern U.S., coupled with a surface low over Colorado, was producing a strong low-level jet into south and southeast Texas.

There was pronounced upper-level diffluence at 300 mbs over the eastern part of south and southeast Texas. A warm front sagged north during the day on Oct 15 from between Austin and San Antonio to between Victoria and Houston. Intense thunderstorms formed near the warm front the afternoon of the 16th and continued through the night. As they built into the steering winds, they advected north-northeast, and a large area from LaGrange to Schulenburg to east of College Station received over 9.00 in.

The most intense rain was the night of Oct 17/18. Edna received 19.00 in. overnight and water was over the hoods of cars on Main Street from flooding down a minor creek through town. Southwest Montgomery County, near Magnolia and Montgomery received over 30 in., and a second center near Cleveland also received in excess of 30 in. Much of the area from Edna to near College Station to Cleveland received over 15.00 in. These were tropical rainfall events, heaviest at night during the early morning hours.

Disastrous flooding passed down Cypress and Spring Creeks, the West and East Fork San Jacinto Rivers, producing a record elevation in Lake Houston by nearly 3 ft. Three-hundred forty-thousand cfs passed over the emergency spillway down the San Jacinto River below Lake Houston. The Houston Chronicle listed 15,775 homes damaged - 3,069 destroyed - 22 flood-related deaths along these streams. Some homes flooded to the roofs of the second story.

A notable characteristic of this flood was the widespread heavy almost uniform rain of disastrous proportions, over 15 in., that produced major flooding and sheet flow in areas well away from streams.

  • Garcitas Creek -
    near Inez - 33.43' Oct 19, 1994 (18,900 cfs)

  • West Mustang Creek -
    near Ganado - 28.39' Oct 19, 1994 (20,000 cfs)

  • Lavaca River -
    near Edna - 35.49' Oct 19, 1994 (150,000 cfs)

  • Sandy Creek -
    near Louise - 28.45' Oct 19, 1994 (24,900 cfs)

  • Colorado River -
    at Wharton - 40.69' Oct 20, 1994 (49,600 cfs)
    near Bay City - 38.67 Oct 20, 1994 (71,100 cfs)

  • Tres Palacios River -
    near Midfield - 31.36' Oct 19, 1994 (13,400 cfs)

  • West Fork San Jacinto River -
    near Conroe - 32.30' Oct 18, 1994 (115,000 cfs)
    above Lake Houston near Porter - 40.10' Oct 18, 1994 (130,000 cfs)

  • Cypress Creek -
    near Hockley - 63.49' Oct 18, 1994 (2,370 cfs) - datum mean sea level
    near Cypress - 47.61' Oct 19, 1994 (5,200 cfs) - datum mean sea level
    at Stuebner-Airline near Westfield - 39.61' Oct 19, 1994 (11,300 cfs) mean sea level

  • Spring Creek -
    near Spring - 39.56' Oct 18, 1994 (76,500 cfs)

  • Caney Creek -
    near Splendora - 26.40' Oct 17, 1994 (36,000 cfs)

  • Luce Bayou -
    near Huffman - 35.08' Oct 18, 1994 (25,900 cfs)

  • East Fork San Jacinto River -
    near Cleveland - 24.57' Oct 18, 1994 (63,000 cfs)
    near New Caney - 33.00' Oct 19, 1994 - cfs)

  • Lake Houston -
    near Sheldon - crested 52.79' - record elevation - 340,000 cfs through spillway and down San Jacinto River through Banana Bend and the Highlands. Several thousand homes flooded below Lake Houston to the ship channel.

1995 - May 29, 1995 - Sandy Creek Flood - Much of the month of May, an upper trough/low pressure area remained over the inter-mountain area of the West. The upper divergence, cool air at upper levels, and jet stream produced instability and storms over the Central Plains.

By May 27th, the cool air mass/upper low began to migrate eastward across the Central Plains to central Missouri by 7 AM of the 30th. The low dragged a cool front that pushed through Texas to offshore by 7 AM of the 29th.

The 7 AM daily weather maps show an upper trough well northwest of the surface front, with the trough axis extending from the Texas Panhandle southward to the Del Rio area. Pronounced diffluence was evident ahead of the trough in central Texas. The heavy rain of the evening of the 29th was associated with the passage of this trough. Central Texas was unstable the night of 28/29 and also 29/30.

The heavy rain began in the evening hours of the 28th when northwest Webb County received generally 5 in. of rain, extending southward into Mexico. A 12-ft crest on the Rio Grande in Mexico put 4 ft of water in lowest areas of the U.S. Customs parking lot.

During the late evening hours of the 29th, the southern part of Williamson County measured 6 to 8 in. of rain. Taylor received 4.10 in. Four homes flooded south of Taylor. Southward in Travis County, Pflugerville received 5 in. between 11 PM and 1:30 AM of the 29th. Three homes flooded along Wilbarger Creek, and 10 cattle drowned farther downstream. Several transients were rescued from sleeping under bridges along Waller Creek and other creeks in Austin.

Intense thunderstorms formed to the west in Mason County and drifted slowly west to east across Llano and Gillespie Counties. Between 8 and 11:30 PM of the 29th, the thunderstorms would drop generally 4.5 to 5.5 in. of rain over the Sandy, Crabapple, and Walnut Creek drainages. The maximum was 8.00 in. at Oxford. Sandy and Crabapple Creeks flow west-southwest to east-northeast. As the thunderstorms generated flood waves down these creeks, their movement west to east caused intense rain on and ahead of the flood waves as they moved down Sandy, Crabapple, and Walnut Creeks, exacerbating the crests.

Another factor was the uniform heavy rain over all the drainages. All the drainages received over 3 in., and nearly all the drainage received over 4 in. in nearly 3 hrs. The Sandy Creek near Kingsland gage at Hwy 71 crested at 31.50 ft (127,400 cfs) at 12:15 AM of the 30th.

Downstream, is a housing development, Sandy Harbor, at the confluence of Walnut and Sandy Creeks, where Lake LBJ normal elevation backs into the area. Very large flood waves down Walnut and Sandy Creeks were confluent at Sandy Harbor, putting water to the roofs of several homes by shortly after midnight of the 30th. One couple was trapped in their home and stood on their dining room table to escape the water. The flood reversed and began falling 6 in. from their ceiling.

Homes were flooded and businesses destroyed the whole way to Sunrise Beach at the mouth of Lake LBJ, 2 mi below Sandy Harbor. An extensive marina at Lake LBJ was washed away and destroyed, as well as a large floating restaurant.

Sixty mi to the southwest, 2 to 3 in. of rain fell during the early morning hours of the 30th. The Guadalupe River above Comal at New Braunfels, the closest gage above Gruene, crested at 7.34 ft near 5 AM of the 30th (6,710 cfs). This small rise washed two vehicles downstream from the bank of the Guadalupe River near Gruene.

One young lady was sleeping in a sleeping bag when it began raining during the early morning hours. She got into her pickup truck and was resting when it began floating downstream. Firemen rescued her from a tree later. Her pickup was destroyed. In another incident, a father, mother, and two daughters were sleeping on the bank. According to the mother, the two daughters began floating downstream on their air mattresses before they all became aware of the danger. They survived, but lost all their camping gear and their pickup was totaled. The mother, from Texas City in the Houston area, was indignant because signs weren't posted warning of the flooding danger.

1996 - October 28, 1996 - A major El Nino episode would be officially declared by the Climate Prediction Center the following March 1997. An upper low had made landfall in British Columbia the 22nd and had slid down the West Coast to the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico/southern California/Arizona the morning of the 27th. The closed low at that position forced a water vapor plume at mid and upper levels across Mexico, across Texas, into the Central Plains. There was marked diffluence at upper levels over west Texas.

High surface pressure over Georgia and South Carolina coupled with the Sonoran upper low forced a low level jet with a long fetch over the Gulf into central Texas. At 7 AM of the 27th, a surface cold front sagged across west Texas from Childress across Midland. By 7 AM of the 28th, the front had moved to a San Antonio - Texarkana line.

The heavy rain ended as an upper low over New Mexico, moving around the "anchor" low to the west, kicked out to the northeast on the 29th. This broke the upper-level tropical plume from the eastern Pacific. This seems to be a frequent model for heavy rain in Texas with major El Ninos.

The heavy rain was widespread between 6 PM of 10/27 and 12 noon 10/28. Heaviest amounts reported were 12.0 in. near Harper in the headwaters of the Pedernales and also the James Rivers, Rocksprings 11.00 in., Kickapoo Caverns north of Bracketville 11.00 in. Unofficially, amounts over 20 in. were reported after the flood in western Edwards County. The heavy rain began the evening hours of the 27th, in Kerr and Gillespie Counties, over 200 mi ahead of the surface front north of Abilene at the time.

Pre-frontal convergence, upper diffluence, and precipitable water totals over 2.00 in. were enough for very intense rain, without the frontal "trigger." Firemen in Kerrville reported the Guadalupe River rose 8 ft in 18 minutes during the evening at Center Point from reading their flood alert system.

There was no river gage on the James River, but the South Fork of the Llano River was 20 ft and rising by 7:30 AM of the 28th. Flooding down the Llano River was devastating where the Llano enters Lake LBJ at Kingsland. Recreation camps, boat docks, boats, homes, and businesses were damaged or destroyed at Kingsland and along Lake LBJ.

Kingsland Lodge, on the east bank of Lake LBJ, opposite where the Llano River enters it, had several buildings severely damaged or destroyed. The momentum of the tens of feet of floodwater slamming down the Llano River pushed across the lake into Kingsland Lodge and was not easily dissipated.

The Frio River flooded low areas of Garner State Park and numerous recreation camps below Garner Park to Concan, requiring rescues of campers.

The West Nueces River crested over a half-mile wide at the gage northeast of Bracketville. Debris was in the seat of the USGS cableway on the right bank. Roads, fencing, any improvements in the floodplain were destroyed. Downstream, the Nueces River would vary between 1 and 4 mi wide to below Crystal City. Ten homes flooded in the west part of Crystal City near 6 PM Wednesday AM, requiring evacuations by helicopter, 18 hrs after the crest at Uvalde 9 SW.

  • West Nueces River -
    near Bracketville - 30.74' Oct 28 12:30 PM 1996 (230,000 cfs)

  • Nueces River -
    Uvalde 9 SW - 24.88' Oct 28 23:30 PM 1996 (201,000 cfs)

  • Dry Frio River -
    near Reagan Wells - 25.57' Oct 28 09:45 AM (55,000 cfs)

  • Frio River -
    at Concan - 21.59' Oct 28, 1991 (47,500 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    at Hunt - 19.73' Oct 28, 1991 (35,900 cfs)
    at Kerrville - 17.73' Oct 28 (54,400 cfs)
    at Comfort - 22.49' Oct 28, (48,900 cfs)

  • Llano River -
    30.15' Oct 28 13:00 PM (158,000 cfs)

1997 - Feb 20, 1997 - The synoptic weather patterns and sequence of this storm were almost exactly the same as described in the Oct 1996 flood - An upper trough making landfall in the Pacific Northwest, sagging down the West Coast to the Sonoran Desert with an accompanying water vapor plume, a surface high over Georgia and South Carolina with an accompanying low-level jet into central Texas, a surface front sagging through Texas as a trigger.

The heavy rain began in Val Verde County in the Johnson Draw drainage between 11 PM of 2/19 and 1 AM of 2/20, dropping a radar-estimated 4 to 5 in. The Devils River near Juno rose 9.25 ft in 1 hr near 2 AM, and crested at 10.0 ft. Flow was 2 ft over the Hwy 163 bridge at Bakers Crossing, cresting at 9.3 ft.

The heavy rain moved into the heart of the "Hill Country" near 3 AM, and 3.95 in. was measured at Harper by 7 AM, and a total 7.63 in. by 11 AM. Unfortunately, this area is the headwaters of the Pedernales and James Rivers. The flood down the James River went down the Llano River through Kingsland into Lake LBJ. The same home, business, recreation camp, and marina owners that were devastated the previous October were wiped out again, 4 months later.

The Pedernales River damaged LBJ National Park as flow exceeded the main Park Road 49 bridge floor by several feet. Signs and fencing in the park were damaged.

The headwaters of the Guadalupe also flooded, cresting at 14.8 ft with 2 ft of flow over the Hwy 39 bridge at Hunt.

  • Devils River -
    near Juno - 10.0' 2/20 2 AM 1997
    Baker Crossing - 9.25' 2/20

  • Pedernales River -
    near Fredericksburg - 27.78' Feb 20 PM 1997
    LBJ National Park - +12'

  • Llano River -
    at Llano - 28.73' 2/20 1:15 PM (144,000 cfs)

1997 - April 10, 1997 - A weak surface high over the Missippi Gulf Coast, coupled with a surface low center over the Mexican interior near Chihuahua sent a strong low level flow into central Texas. A weak warm front was forming over the Gulf Coastal Bend area near Port Lavaca, extending northwest. As an upper trough moved with the zonal upper flow across the Hocheim - Yoakum - Shiner area and the weak front, explosive rainfall began.

Intense thunderstorms began near 10:30 PM of April 10th oriented west to east in the Hocheim - Yoakum area. Over the next 3 hrs, the system built to the north to past Shiner. By 1:30 AM of the 11th, 3-hr totals were up to 13.0 in. at the Midway area, 10 to 13 in. at the Shiner vicinity.

Major flooding put several feet of water in homes well away from the Boggy, Rocky, and Brushy Creeks in Lavaca County. These normally are minor creeks, but 13 in. of rain in 3 hrs turned them into major streams. Hwy 95 south of Shiner was flooded several hundred yards by Mustang Creek. Downstream, a farm home had several feet of water in it several hundred yards from the creek. An elderly lady who had lived there 83 years said the home had never flooded in her lifetime.

The lady, who lived alone, called her daughter in Corpus Christi during the early morning hours. The daughter drove from Corpus to her mother's house and described her panic as she navigated the flooded roads. Fortunately, the flooding had subsided substantially by the time she got near Shiner.

The daughter and the county EMC spoke of an elderly couple whose car stalled near the FM 531 bridge as the flood wave got there. Their Suburban washed off the road into the ditch. They escaped through the rear door and climbed into a mesquite tree in the early morning hours. After 3 hrs, at 3:30 AM, flow subsided enough that the lady climbed down from the tree, waded to "shore," and walked to the farmhouse where the previously mentioned elderly lady lived, and knocked on the door, scaring the daylights out of the lady. After some communication, the resident allowed the other lady in, and they called 911. Her husband in the Suburban, who had open-heart surgery 2 years before, was rescued and put in intensive care.

Another man downstream awakened at 1:30 AM, heard a light noise, and put his ft out of bed into ankle-deep water. He and his daughter climbed into the attic until the water receded from their home at 3:30 AM. Damage was heartbreaking at all these homes. Walls, carpeting, furnishings, autos, all had to be replaced. Flood silt is impossible to remove from furnishings.

Another couple was alerted by their son who lives in a house near theirs, who called them when the flood reached near their home. The flood would go on to put 5 ft of water in their home. The family put their kitchen bar stools on the bar and sat on them with water over their ankles. By 3:30 AM water had receded from the house but they were afraid to get down because the flood water broke windows and shattered glass was on the floor.

There was one fatality. An employee of the Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Halletsville, who lived near Flatonia, left for work at 2 AM. At 4 AM, his foreman at the plant called his wife to learn why he was not at work. The man had driven into a minor unnamed creek before he could stop and was washed downstream with his car.

His wife and foreman walked the banks of the creek as soon as it was light, and his wife found his car downstream. They found him a mile or so downstream, lodged between two trees, a few hundred yards above the Lavaca River.

The Lavaca River at Halletsville crested at 28.3 ft, 9 in. below the slab of the lowest home. Flooding down the Lavaca River was much worse below Halletsville as the above creeks fed into it. Thousands of livestock drowned.

1997 - June 22, 1997 - The early morning hours of June 21st, the third in a series of El Nino related storms moved into the Texas Hill Country. The meteorology was very similar to the Oct 1996 and Feb 1997 storms. An upper trough moved into the Pacific Northwest, moved down the West Coast, and along the U.S. border into the Texas Hill Country. It brought a water vapor plume from the eastern Pacific into the Central Plains across Texas. A strong jet at low levels brought low-level moisture into the Hill Country, and as the upper low moved into the confluence of the two, it exploded and stalled 2 days.

Heavy rain began the early morning hours of the 21st as the upper low center moved into the Leakey area. Thunderstorms began forming near 3 AM in the Dilley to Charlotte area where flow around the southern periphery of the low converged against the low-level inflow from the Gulf into central Texas. By 9 AM the area from west of Dilley to near Charlotte would receive 4.0 to 5.60 in.

The heavy rain progressed eastward through the day to south of Cuero. An area from Schroeder to Yorktown to north of Cuero would receive over 7.00 in., with an 11.0-in. center 15 mi south of Cuero. There were no serious flooding problems with this rainfall.

The area near Bandera and east to Boerne received 8.0 to 10.0 in. of rain, mostly the late morning and early afternoon of the 21st (11 AM to 3 PM). The NWS gage at Bandera received 9.73 in. This same area received another 8.0 to 12.0 in. during the early morning hours of the 22nd, producing 2 day totals to 18 in. to 22 in. Observers near Pipe Creek reported from 14.50 to 24.0 in. One man reported 18.0 in., but let his gage overflow several times. Pipe Creek 5E measured 19.0 in.

Boerne, on Ranger and Cibolo Creeks, is protected by three flood-retention dams in the headwaters, the lowest being Boerne City Lake. These dams were overwhelmed in the early morning hours, and a large flood wave slammed through Boerne near 4:30 AM.

Generally a third of the homes lining Cibolo Creek in Boerne flooded. Several feet of torrential flow slammed through homes just below Boerne City Lake and was life threatening. The Boerne Chief of Police's TV was washed through the plate glass front window of his home just below Boerne City Lake.

The flood wave passed downstream in Cibolo Creek and flooded many homes in Bulverde. The worst flooding was in Schertz, on the eastern edge of San Antonio. At the Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park, RV trailers floated downstream like corks until they hit an obstruction. One trailer floated 12 ft above the ground into a grove of trees. It remained where it was, well into the trees, when the water subsided. All the large mobile homes floated off their foundations but didn't travel far. Nearly a hundred homes were damaged or destroyed.

A large residential area flooded above the city park in Schertz, and several businesses were severely flooded. Three homes were reported flooded downstream near Lavernia.

In eastern Bandera County, in an area of near 20-in. rainfall, Castle Lake Dam failed. The flood wave slammed down Bear Creek into Privilege Creek. A pickup truck with two men in it stalled near 1 AM at the Privilege Creek Bridge on Hwy 16. One man waded out to get help. The other washed downstream with the truck to his death.

Near 2 AM, a car was reported swept off the State Hwy 16 bridge at Bandera Creek, just east of Bandera. Firemen rescued a man from a tree just downstream. The body of his wife was found a mile downstream the next day.

The lower tier of Camp Jellystone, beside the Medina River in Bandera, was evacuated Saturday afternoon before the Medina River crested at 13.36 ft at 11:45 PM. The lowest trailers flood near 14 ft. All the trailers were evacuated the night of the 21st/22nd, as the Medina River rose to a crest of 24.49 ft at 5:15 AM June 22nd, with 6 in. of flow over the highest (3rd) tier of trailer sites. No trailers were damaged or lives were lost.

Disastrous flooding occurred on the Frio River below Leakey to below Concan. Many homes flooded and some washed downstream between Leakey and Rio Frio. Many RVs and vans washed downstream in Garner State Park and private recreation camps below Garner Park to Concan. A 15-ft flood wave passed over the low dam in Garner State Park. Stone permanent restrooms were severely flooded with 3 to 4 ft of water in them. All the park camping area flooded with several feet of water.

Downstream, in Camp Riverview, the Meyers who owned the camp received a call at 3:10 AM from a lady upstream near Rio Frio that there was a 10-ft rise on the Dry Frio and 1 ft on the Frio River near Leakey. Mr. Meyer went out into the campground to warn the campers and measured 2.50 in. of rain. Campers in the upstream part of his campground were already stranded and in trees at that time. They would be rescued in the early daylight hours by DPS helicopters from Austin. The extremely intense (3-4 in/hr) rainfall fell directly on the tributaries that feed this part of the Frio River, well below the headwaters. Reaction time for evacuations from the heavy rain was less than an hour.

RV campers in the main part of the camp were already flooding also. Mr. Meyer helped them hook up to leave. By 3:15 AM, a 13- ft rise was putting 5 ft of water through lowest areas above the banks. By 4 AM, there was an 18-ft rise, and by 4:30 AM the crest was a 22-ft rise above normal low flow. Many RVs, tent trailers, vans, cars, tents, and equipment were washed downstream. Fortunately, there were no drownings.

The Dry Frio River flooded several homes below Reagan Wells to Hwy 83 up to 10 ft over their slabs. Several autos washed downstream from places that don't ordinarily flood. Low-water crossings along FM 1051 were under 20 ft of flow.

Near Utopia, on the Sabinal River, at the Utopia on the River resort camp, the water began rising rapidly in the early morning hours. Guests of the resort, a convention of psychologists, climbed to the second floor. As the water continued rising to 4 to 5 ft deep in the lower floor, they panicked, punched a hole in the roof, and men, women and children climbed out onto the tin roof during the early morning hours, in the 2 to 3 in/hr rainfall, with the Sabinal River raging below them. All survived. Thirty-one autos washed downstream from the parking lot.

The town of D'Hanis, between Seco and Parker Creeks, was completely underwater as the two creeks flooded severely. Residents had plenty of time to evacuate. Water rose to 2-1/2 ft up the store fronts along the main street. About a mile of Hwy 90 was destroyed, as was much of the Southern Pacific railway.

The 18 to 22 in. of rain west of Boerne in Kendall County extended into the Big and Little Joshua Creek drainages, sending huge flood waves down them into the Guadalupe River below Waring. Three homes flooded between Waring and Hwy 281. The Guadalupe River gage at FM 311 below Spring Branch crested at 45.12 ft June 22 at 5 PM (116,000 cfs). This level on the river gage (slung below the FM 311 bridge) damaged the gage supports and wiring to the telemetry. The gage came uncomfortably close to physically washing downstream from its very high bridge support.

Canyon Lake downstream would rise to a crest of 937.57 ft, conservation pool 909 ft, and near the emergency spillway height of 943 ft. All roads, docks, marinas, parks and improvements around the lake were flooded and damaged severely.

The Pedernales River severely flooded LBJ National Park. Twelve ft of flow passed over the Park Road 49 bridge, the main artery through the park. All signs and roads in the floodplain were destroyed. Water barely seeped under the front door of the Junction School, the old Johnson family school on the ranch where LBJ received his early education.

Again, major flooding passed down the James and South Fork Llano Rivers into the Llano River mainstem above Mason. Eight to 18.5 in. of rain fell in these drainages. A woman 10 mi south of Mason reported 18.5 in. between mid-morning and late evening of the 22nd.

Many homes flooded along the Llano River floodplain near Castell downstream to Lake LBJ. The water treatment plant in Llano flooded to the roof, putting the town without water several days.

In Kingsland, docks, boats, jetskis, house boats, anything near the river washed downstream. Owners spent days searching miles downstream for their belongings. Homes, apartments, and recreation resorts were damaged severely, and in some cases, washed downstream in Kingsland. Kingsland Lodge, just opposite of where the Llano River enters Lake LBJ, again had a duplex washed away and destroyed. Several buildings were heavily damaged and nearly destroyed.

Downstream in Marble Falls, the Colorado River/Lake Marble Falls backed up Backbone Creek flooding 35 homes. Twenty-four more homes flooded in other sections.

Lake Travis crested at 705.11 ft, flooding hundreds of homes, some as much as 18 ft above the slabs, in the Graveyard Point subdivision.

  • West Nueces River -
    near Bracketville - 22.71' 6/22 17:45 PM (72,300 cfs)

  • Nueces River -
    at Laguna - 25.4' 6/22 13:00 PM (139,000 cfs)
    Uvalde 9 SW - 18.88' 6/22 19:30 PM (102,000 cfs)
    18.39' 6/23 04:30 AM (95,000 cfs)

  • Dry Frio River -
    near Reagan Wells - 23.28' 6/22 06:00 AM (31,900 cfs)

  • Frio River -
    at Concan - 24.40' 6/22 06:30 AM (61,000 cfs)
    below Dry Frio - 25.09' 6/22 13:30 PM (100,000 cfs)
    near Derby - 21.77' 6/24 10:00 AM (56,400 cfs)
    at Tilden - 29.56' 6/28 13:00 PM (20,800 cfs)

  • Sabinal River -
    at Sabinal - 35.86' 6/22 11:00 AM (93,500 cfs)

  • Seco Creek -
    at Miller Ranch near Utopia - 17.7' 6/22 03:45 AM (64,900 cfs) - 45 mi2 drainage area = 1,442 cfs/mi2 runoff
    at Rowe Ranch near D'Hanis - 30.62' 6/22 11:15 AM (51,400 cfs)

  • Hondo Creek -
    near Tarpley - 29.64' 6/22 05:00 AM (76,900 cfs) - 95.6 mi2 = 804.4 cfs/mi2 runoff
    at Kings Water Hole - 18.96' 6/22 07:30 AM (63,600 cfs)

  • Medina River -
    at Bandera - 24.49' 6/22 05:15 AM (52,000 cfs)

  • Cibolo Creek -
    at IH-10 above Boerne - 20.82' 6/22 (20,100 cfs)
    at Selma - 29.73' 6/22 (69,600 cfs)
    near Falls City - 28.40' 6/24 18:00 PM (17,300 cfs)

  • Pedernales River -
    at Fredericksburg - 31.87' 6/22 4:35 AM
    at LBJ Nat'l Park staff gage - 17.3'
    at Park Rd 49 Bridge - 22.0' rise above normal low flow
    near Johnson City - 25.16' 6/22 10:30 AM (94,900 cfs)

  • Llano River -
    at Llano - 38.86' 6/23 03:00 AM (260,000 cfs)

1998 - August 22, 1998 - Tropical Storm Charlie - Tropical Storm Charlie was a very weak system in the western Gulf of Mexico in an environment of near 5 knot winds, and Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures from upper 80s to the low 90s. The center was rapidly re-analyzed 200 mi east of the previous analysis the morning it made landfall near Port Aransas the night of August 20/21st.

An area west of Refugio received 10 to 12 in. the morning of the 21st, with a 12.0-in. center 10 mi west of Refugio. Other than the obvious severe lowland flooding of roads, bridges, crop and pastureland, there was no major flooding in this area.

Being tropical/barotropic in nature, the next severe flooding would be where the storm center was during the next evening/early morning hours (21st/22nd). That would be near Uvalde. Circulation in the lowest few thousand ft was 25 knots from 160 degrees, a strong low-level feed of warm moist air from the Gulf into the storm. Above the lowest few thousand ft, winds were generally 5 knots up to the tropopause. Precipitable water at Del Rio was 2.50 in. at the afternoon sounding (8/22).

The storm was still carrying feeder bands of intense thunderstorms. During the early morning hours of Sunday Aug 22nd, one of the feeder bands oriented east-southeast by west-northwest stalled over Hondo extending across Leakey into Edwards County. Thunderstorms "trained" along the band with rainfall rates to 5 in/hr and totals to 8.00 in. during about 3 hrs ending near 6 AM. Hondo received 8.0 in., Utopia 7E 7.35 in., Tarpley 7.35 in., Leakey 8NE (HEB Camp) 8.00 in.

Flooding in the Frio and Nueces Rivers hydrologically was much worse than the disastrous, life-threatening flooding of the previous June 1997 flood. But emergency personnel were well ahead of this event, evacuating all campers by 2 AM, well ahead of the major flooding. Garner State Park was severely damaged. One large permanent stone restroom was severely damaged, the other washed downstream and was obliterated. Asphalt roads were destroyed. Picnic tables, signs, debris were strewn over the park. There was a 19-ft crest over the low-water dam in the park, compared to 15 ft in the June 1997 flood.

Several tens of homes flooded below Leakey to Rio Frio, and some washed downstream. One log home floated several miles downstream, with a full coffee pot on the kitchen counter. When found, the coffee pot remained undisturbed. It was almost impossible to travel in the Frio and Nueces River drainages after the flood as nearly all the roads in the floodplains were destroyed.

The Dry Frio again flooded many homes in the floodplain, some to over 10 ft, and washed automobiles downstream.

The Nueces River flooded lowest homes in the eastern part of Crystal City again, as well as many primary and secondary roads in the floodplain. Southwest of Crystal City, above the confluence of the Nueces River and Turkey Creek, flooding was 1-1/2 mi wide in the south and west sides of Crystal City. FM 190 flooded a mile wide at the near Asherton gage, and crested above the FM 190 bridge floor.

The Guadalupe River flooded the Hwy 39 bridge at Hunt with 5 ft of water over it. This is an important artery between the east and west parts of Kerr County.

In the divide of the Frio, South Fork Llano, and North Fork Guadalupe Rivers, a minor creek crosses Hwy 41. Eighteen Mexican nationals were being transported into the interior of Texas in a 3/4-ton pickup. An auto, part of the same group, was traveling behind them.

The pickup stalled and washed downstream dumping the aliens into the flooding. The "coyote" or group leader swam ashore and escaped. The auto was last seen heading for Rocksprings at a high rate of speed. Four drowned. Firemen from Hunt, Mountain Home, and Kerrville rescued the rest.

The storm center was near Del Rio the night of the 22nd/23rd. The morning of the 23rd, 4.5 in. fell between 10 AM and noon, 6.12 in. total by 2:45 PM. This rainfall filled San Felipe Creek, threatening lowest homes through Del Rio. A lull occurred in the rainfall until 9 PM. In the next 3 hrs, 11.49 in. would fall at the official coop observer's home at Del Rio 2 NW. The intense rain appeared to be in a "feeder" band oriented from south of Del Rio northward up the Devils River to north of Bakers Crossing. Thunderstorms "trained" along the band.

The Devils River at Paffords Crossing crested at 12.3 ft, 105,300 cfs, during the early morning hours of the 24th. The Rio Grande at Del Rio crested at 15.7 ft.

An extremely rapid rise passed down San Felipe Creek just after 11:30 PM of the 23rd. Many residents had no time to escape the raging waters and were rescued from roof tops. Many agencies—the Border Patrol, county sheriffs department, city fire department, DPS, police department—rapidly mobilized for the rescues. Several people were rescued by rescue officials forming human chains and wading chest deep into the flooding. That there were only nine drownings on the American (Del Rio) side of the river is testimony to heroic rescue efforts and some good luck.

Many residential blocks had absolutely no homes left on them. All were washed downstream. Much of the area could hardly be recognized as ever having been a residential area, and in fact looked like the remnants of an F5 tornado. Nothing was left but slabs of homes. Many asphalt streets were gone. Holes were punched into the second-floor walls of two-story homes. Concrete stair cases led up to thin air where two-story homes had been.

Pinto and Sycamore Creeks downstream received major flooding also, feeding the disastrous floodwater passing down the Rio Grande. Eagle Pass crested at 34.98 ft midnight of the 24th (232,400 cfs). Major and minor roads were impassable where they crossed these streams between Del Rio and Eagle Pass.

All the homes and businesses (hundreds) in the lowest block between the river and the downtown section of Eagle Pass flooded severely. The Rio Grande backed up Seco Creek, flooding additional homes a couple of miles up it. The Rio Grande also backed up Elm Creek flooding the Hwy 277 bridge, a couple of miles from the Rio Grande. The river crested 8 ft below the deck of the International Bridge.

In the Laredo area, the river backed up Santa Isabel Creek, north of Laredo, flooding mobile homes and heavy construction equipment. Homes and warehouses also flooded along Chacon Creek near Hwy 359. Fifteen mi below Laredo, at the Rio Bravo colonia, two dozen homes flooded, and two automobiles were damaged. The crest near 35.02 ft was 11 ft below the International Bridge # 2 floor.

  • Guadalupe River -
    at Hunt - 17.57' 8/23 12:45 PM (24,300 cfs)

  • Medina River -
    at Bandera - 15.85' 8/23 19:00 PM (10,400 cfs)

  • Dry Frio River -
    near Reagan Wells - 21.05' 8/23 07:00 AM (25,500 cfs)

  • Frio River -
    near Concan - 25.50' 8/23
    blo Dry Frio near Uvalde - 23.10' 8/24 01:00 AM (81,230 cfs)

  • Nueces River -
    at Laguna - 21.30' 8/23 16:15 PM (82,000 cfs)
    Uvalde 9 SW - 16.65' 8/25 6:15 AM (68,800 cfs)

  • West Nueces River -
    near Bracketville - 20.18' 8/24 17:30 PM (46,400 cfs)

  • Devils River -
    at Paffords Crossing - 12.3' 8/24 3:00 AM (105,103 cfs)

  • San Felipe Creek -
    Del Rio - 108,000 cfs 8/23 midnight

  • Rio Grande -
    Del Rio - 15.7' 8/24 02:00 AM - Flow could not be figured - velocity was
    backflow from San Felipe Creek, confluent downstream, backing up the
    Rio Grande - velocity may have been zero, or negative
    Eagle Pass - 34.98' 8/24 midnight - (232,400 cfs)
    Laredo - Columbia Bridge - 44.89' (125,000 cfs)
    Laredo - 35.02' 8/27 05:00 AM (154,500 cfs)

1998 - October 17, 1998 - October Flood - A hybrid storm system, part baroclinic and part tropical, developed during the early morning of October 17, 1998. An upper-level low dug from the Pacific Northwest to near the "four corners" area. A cold front ahead of it looped across west Texas from near Childress southwest across Midland during the early morning hours of the 17th. The front was nearly 400 mi northwest of the flooding which developed over San Antonio, with the heavy rain beginning near 5 AM of 10/17.

The upper low was drawing a low level 20 to 30 knot Gulf flow into central Texas, and it was pulling a mid- and upper-level water vapor plume off the eastern Pacific across Mexico and Texas. The Pacific moisture was amply fed by two hurricanes active off the Mexican west coast, Madeline near the tip of the Baja Peninsula, and Lester, south of Madeline off the Acapulco coastline. Moisture from the eastern peripheries of these storms fed directly into the water-vapor plume across Texas.

The primary factor in the mesoscale development of the first thunderstorms near 5 AM in western Bexar County was a small-scale clearing in Bexar and Frio Counties of a cirrus deck prevalent over south Texas. The differential radiational cooling of the top of the very tropical air mass in the mesoscale hole in the cirrus deck destabilized the sounding and initiated thunderstorms in that area. The first storms quickly developed into a mesoscale convective system (MCS) in the very unstable environment. The MCS built west to east into the low-level flow through the day and night.

The first band of heavy rain was from western Bexar County northward into Kendall County. Woods of Shavano reported 13.00 in. of rain between 5 AM and the late morning hours. Guadalupe State Park reported 14.00 in. during the same period. By mid-afternoon an observer 10 mi southeast of San Marcos measured 22.5 in. of rain. At that point, he had several feet of water in his home and was wading through waist deep water. He quit reading the rain gage, even though very heavy rain continued into the evening and intermittently through the night. He was certain he had over 30 in. of rain and believed he had about 35.0 in. The 22.5 in. was between mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

The man lived in the York Creek drainage just east of the Hunter Cement Plant. He marked a high-water mark in the Christmas flood of December 1991. He felt confident water wouldn't rise above that point. Flow rose slowly to that point by early afternoon, then began rising rapidly. This was characteristic of the October flood. Explosive rainfall to levels never imagined over many counties - Bexar - Kendall - Gonzales - Caldwell - Comal - Hays.

A band of over 20 in. extended from Guadalupe State Park in Kendall County to New Braunfels and Canyon Lake to Zorn and San Marcos to northeast of Niederwald on Hwy 21. The 12 in. isohyetal extends from Breslau to the southern tip of Travis County to Kendalia to Castroville to near Yoakum.

With this storm, motorists faced a nightmare. Not only were secondary roads severely flooded and impassable, all the interstates were flooded in many places. Motorists faced all-day journeys going a few tens of mi between San Antonio and San Marcos and were in shock as they paused in fast-food restuarants along IH-35. Local traveling in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and San Marcos during Saturday, the 17th was a life threatening experience. Thirty-two persons drowned in the flood.

An exacerbating factor was that the streams in this area flow northwest to southeast. The MCS built in the same direction through the day of the 17th through that night. Several inches per hour rainfall fell on and ahead of the river crests moving downstream, creating floodwaves ahead of the routed crests from upstream.

Leon Creek - The jet engine test facility at Kelly AFB flooded with water to the roof of one building. One jet engine washed downstream in its protective casing. The slab of these buildings is 19 ft. IH-35 downstream flooded and closed at the bridge.

Olmos Creek - fed into Olmos Dam just below the McAllister Freeway. Olmos Dam backed up and closed the McAllister Freeway with up to 7 ft of water over it. It never closed down before. Thousands of homes flooded in the headwaters above Loop 410.

Salado Creek - flooded homes in the floodplain from the headwaters to the San Antonio River confluence. All the shops in an upscale shopping center just above NE Loop 410, the Los Patios Shopping Center, had 3 to 4 ft of water in them. A few moved slightly from their slabs.

Northeast Loop 410 had water over the bridge railing over Salado Creek. It never flooded before. A very large KOA campground downstream at Gembler Street had hundreds of RVs destroyed as 10 to 20 ft of torrential water slammed through it. Flow had never been within 40 yards of the headquarters building. With this flood 4 to 5 ft of water flooded the headquarters.

Downstream in the Wheatley Courts subdivision, a wedding was in progress. The water rose so rapidly that many people were rescued in waist deep water before they could escape. Thousands of homes flooded severely all along Salado Creek.

San Antonio River - Several homes below Loop 410 flooded with water 5 ft deep in them. The Medina River put the FM 937 bridge floor under nearly 30 ft of water and several homes flooded along the Medina between Hwy 281 and the San Antonio River. Lowest homes flooded along the San Antonio River below San Antonio downstream to the Guadalupe River confluence near Tivoli. Tens of thousands of livestock drowned over south Texas in all the rivers combined.

Falls City - the San Antonio River flooded six homes in Falls City, up to 5 ft deep.

Goliad - The Hwy 183 bridge at Goliad State Park had 7 ft of flow over it. Several homes flooded in the southeast part of Goliad. The San Antonio River got within two blocks of the south edge of downtown Goliad. Goliad State Park flooded over all the camping area and was severely damaged.

Cibolo Creek - Schertz - Flooding was horrendous in Schertz. At the Pecan Grove Mobile Home Park RVs floated like corks in the June 1997 flood, and large mobile homes floated off their foundations. In the October 1998 flood, large mobile homes floated downstream like corks until they encountered an immovable object and stacked up. Mobile homes were found bunched together in piles.

Several blocks of homes above the city park flooded. As much as 23 ft of flow passed over the Hwy 78 bridge. Flow overtopped the Southern Pacific railroad tracks at Cibolo Creek. Homes and businesses from a wide area washed downstream, including Kens Trading Post, a prominent business on the southwest quadrant of Cibolo Creek and Hwy 78. Flow passed along the main street of Schertz, well above and east of the creek.

Lavernia - Downstream above and below Lavernia, sheet flow up to 6 ft deep 2 mi wide over the right floodplain severely damaged homes, terrorized residents, and washed autos, tractors, and anything in the floodplain downstream. The Lavernia fire department risked their lives driving large fire trucks when possible, commandeering boats when that was the only method of travel, to save people. Three boats were destroyed in rescue efforts. One woman, well into the flooding zone, was rescued by helicopter. She was about tree top level when she fell back into the water. She suffered undetermined back injuries and was rescued a second time. Several businesses in Lavernia flooded with several feet of water. Hwy 87 southeast of Lavernia flooded for several miles.

Comal River - A flood-retention dam installed on Blieders Creek apparently saved residents in the floodplain above Landa Park from the severe flooding they endured in the May 1972 flood. Dry Comal Creek flooded hundreds of homes in western New Braunfels above the Comal River confluence just below Landa Park. The Comal River flooded many homes and businesses below Landa Park, including the Tube Chute Park.

Guadalupe River - Flooding was disastrous along the Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam, starting where Bear Creek is confluent with the Guadalupe below Sattler. Homes were severely flooded or destroyed well up on the bluffs above the river along River Road between Canyon Lake and New Braunfels.

Nineteen homes washed downstream in New Braunfels. One group, just above Common Street, had slab elevations as low as 12.5 ft gage height. The river gage at the site showed a crest of 35.08 ft; 23 ft of raging water flowed over the slabs. The Common Street bridge floor is 17 ft gage height; 18 ft of water flowed over it. The remnants of the homes stacked against a grove of trees two blocks below Common Street in a stack three stories high.

Another group of homes washed downstream just below IH-35 on the left bank. Numerous expensive homes went downstream leaving only bare slabs. A large RV park under the IH-35 bridge over the Guadalupe River had tens of RVs washed downstream. Residents of the Lakeside RV Park, 3 mi below IH-35 on Lake Dunlap, counted 12 RVs floating past them during the late afternoon.

A very expensive subdivision on an island in Lake McQueeney, Treasure Island, was completely flooded, with hundreds of several hundred-thousand dollar to million dollar homes flooded several feet.

Seguin - Disastrous flooding - Many homes washed downstream, and thousands flooded severely with water over the roofs of some - Highest flood in known history - a foot higher than the flood of June 1935.

Geronimo Creek - Seguin - added to the flooding as it put water to the roofs of homes from below Hwy 90A to the Guadalupe River. Many homes flooded from the headwaters of Alligator and Geronimo Creeks near New Braunfels to the Guadalupe River. The creek was a half mi to a mi wide in places. The Hwy 90A bridge had several feet of flow over it.

Blanco River - Wimberley - The Blanco River itself didn't flood homes in Wimberley, but backed up Cypress Creek so that water down Cypress Creek flooded a dozen businesses in Wimberley. The Blanco River put flow exactly to the slabs of three homes just above Ranch Road 12 in Wimberley. The Blano River flooded several tens of homes severely in the northeast part of San Marcos. The 20 to 30 in. of intense rain flooded homes and businesses over much of San Marcos due to poor local drainage. Five NRCS flood-retention dams prevented San Marcos from being virtually wiped out, much worse than the floods of 1968 and 1970.

Plum Creek - Lockhart - flooded lowest businesses in Uhland on Hwy 21. The creek was up to a mi wide in places downstream, including near Lockhart where the creek surged into the left floodplain closing Hwy 183. Homes, oil tank batteries, oil pump jacks, livestock were damaged or destroyed above Hwy 21 to the Guadalupe River confluence below Luling.

San Marcos River - Luling - completely inundated the golf course and flooded several blocks of homes north of the golf course near the river gage at Hwy 80. Ottine - disastrous flooding 5 mi below San Marcos at Ottine in the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital, which had never flooded. Eight ft of water filled the lower floor. Patients were trucked to Hwy 183 during the early daylight hours of Sunday the 18th and evacuated by four Black Hawk helicopters.

All of Palmetto State Park recreation area was completely inundated, but the headquarters building at the entrance wasn't. A very large pavilion building built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s had water on its roof.

Guadalupe River - Gonzales - Water was over 3 mi wide at the Guadalupe and San Marcos confluence northwest of Gonzales. Flow backed up Tinsley Creek and flooded homes miles above the Guadalupe River in Gonzales. The city park was completely inundated with water to the roofs of buildings.

Peach Creek - Was over a mile wide east of Gonzales at FM 532 to the Guadalupe River confluence below Gonzales. Several homes flooded in Waelder in a minor creek in the headwaters. Major flooding was widespread below the headwaters to the Guadalupe River confluence, flooding lowest homes, farm tractors, equipment, and thousands of cattle.

Guadalupe River - Cuero - The crest at Cuero was 473,000 cfs, almost 4 times the previous record of 132,000 cfs, Sept 1, 1981. This flow was so massive it flowed over the left bank just northwest of Cuero, flowed over 2 mi across the floodplain, and "ambushed" Cuero, over 2-1/2 mi from the main river channel. Gholke Creek acted exactly as a floodway, collecting the excess flow. The problem with this "floodway" was that it diverted excess flow through the heart of Cuero.

Water raged less than a block from the main section of downtown Cuero. The downtown businesses themselves did not flood, but several homes washed across Hwy 87 1-1/2 blocks west of downtown. As the flood receded, the last two homes, locked together when the water fell, remained on Hwy 87. Nearly all the western half of Cuero was destroyed. Homes washed downstream, businesses had 10 to 15 ft of water in them, autos washed about like corks, large cement trucks in a cement plant washed downstream until they hit an obstruction. The river was nearly 3 mi wide at Cuero. Cattle were retrieved from the roof of a home in Cuero, obviously washing miles downstream before finding their perch.

Thomaston - A residential area about 10 mi below Cuero near Thomaston was destroyed. The River Haven, River Oaks, and Cypress Valley subdivisions were for the most part, literally washed away. The 1987 flood flooded over a hundred homes up to 9 ft. This flood washed most of those homes downstream. A home that had sat next to the NWS unofficial observers home high on stilts was found by itself in a field about a mile from its previous slab.

The observers home has the 1981 and 1987 flood levels marked by nails driven into a telephone pole. The observer built his home high on stilts just above the level of the 1981 flood and felt secure his home would never flood. He's an offshore driller and was in the Gulf when the event happened. He returned to find the remnants of several feet of water in his home elevated nearly 20 ft above the left floodplain.

Victoria - Much of the area west of downtown Victoria flooded, including the Greens Addition area. The golf course, zoo, and Riverside Park were almost completely inundated. Several thousand homes flooded severely.

Tivoli - In a new residential area, miles long above Hwy 35 on the east bank of the Guadalupe River, water extended 5 mi to the east of it. The Guadalupe River was over 5 mi wide above Hwy 35, flooding Greens Lake. A fishing resort on the left bank just below Hwy 35 had all its buildings flooded several feet.

Onion Creek - Major flooding from the headwaters above Driftwood to the Colorado River confluence. The FM 150 bridge in the headwaters near Driftwood had 19 ft of water over it. Downstream, a huge mobile home park on the left bank just above William Cannon Drive in Austin had several feet of water over 10 or 12 city blocks of it. A few trailers had water inside them. The crest at Hwy 183 was 32.0 ft, exceeding the flood of record during the period the USGS has kept continuous recorded data.

Williamson Creek - Put water under a few pier and beam businesses at Oak Hill beside Hwy 290 in southwest Austin. No businesses actually flooded.

Shoal Creek - At W. 12th Street crested at 15.4 ft, 2-1/2 ft below the level water passes over the right bank down Lamar Street. This level flooded a few businesses below W. 12th Street. Two ft of flow passed down Shoal Creek Boulevard, just below the Lamar Street bridge.

Walnut Creek - Crested at 25.1 ft at Webberville Road. A couple of mobile home parks had several homes flooded, one above Hwy 290 and the other downstream.

Colorado River - Webberville - The crest near 25 ft flooded a home on the left bank just above LCRA staff gage.

Bastrop - Much of the golf course and floodplain were inundated.

Smithville - Pecan Shores, 1-1/2 mi above Smithville, right bank, had tens of homes severely flooded. Hidden Valley Estates, 4 mi above Smithville, right bank, had many permanent homes nearly destroyed, several mobile homes damaged and some floated downstream. Doty River Estates, 2 mi above Smithville, left bank, had several homes flooded.

LaGrange - The Fritsch Auf community had water in ten homes up to 6 ft. The Colorado Landing Mobile Home Park had water under most of the trailers, but only a few had water in them.

Columbus - No significant residential flooding - Major flooding of the floodplain with roads, bridges, livestock damaged or destroyed.

Wharton - Some of the flow passed over the left bank near Garwood, flooding hundreds of square miles of farmland, but partially alleviating the flow through Wharton. Still, residential flooding in Wharton was major, with several city blocks of homes, schools, and businesses flooded.

Navidad River - Major flooding extended from the headwaters above IH-10 to Lake Texana. The FM 530 bridge above Speaks had 5 ft of water over it, and the Navidad River was over a half mile wide.

Downstream near Morales, the County Road 283 bridge was under more than 5 ft of water, isolating residents east of the stream.

At Strane Park, FM 401, the bridge approaches had 4 ft of water over them. A mobile home in the left bank had water under it, but didn't flood as the Navidad River swelled to over 1/3 mi wide.

Sandy Creek (Jackson County) - The FM 710 bridge floor flooded and approaches were flooded several hundred yards.

Lavaca River - Major flooding put water within 6 in. of the lowest residential slabs in Halletsville Saturday night, the 17th. Downstream at Hwy 59 near Edna, the river was 1/2 mi wide.

  • Shoal Creek -
    W. 12th St, Austin - 15.60' 10/17 11:00 AM (5,270 cfs)

  • Onion Creek -
    near Driftwood - 24.91' 10/17 2:00 PM (20,000 cfs)
    Hwy 183, Austin - 32.00' 10/17 6:30 PM (51,000 cfs)

  • Williamson Creek -
    at Oak Hill, Brush Country Road - 6.79' 10/17 ( 3,390 cfs)

  • Walnut Creek -
    at Webberville Road - 25.14' 10/17 2:45 PM

  • Colorado River -
    at Austin - 24.40' (38,000 cfs)
    at Bastrop - 32.27' 10/17 10:00 PM (56,000 cfs)
    at Smithville - 34.60' 10/18 11:30 PM (100,000 cfs)
    at LaGrange - 45.50' 10/20 4:00 AM (90,000 cfs)
    at Columbus - 43.66' (87,700 cfs)
    at Wharton - 48.72' (74,800 cfs)
    near Bay City - 40.95' (77,800 cfs)

  • West Mustang Creek (Jackson County) -
    Hwy 59 near Ganado - 19.74' 10/20 10:00 AM (7,100 cfs)

  • Sandy Creek (Jackson County) -
    FM 710 near Cordele - 32.70' 10/19 (42,000 cfs)

  • Navidad River -
    Hwy 90A near Sublime - 32.20' 10/18 11:15 AM (28,600 cfs)
    FM 530 near Speaks - +32.46' (gage flooded)
    CR 283 near Morales - 33.25' 10/19 7:30 AM
    CR 401 at Strane Park - 30.15' 10/19 6:45 AM

  • Lavaca River -
    at Halletsville - 28.50' 10/18 10:00 AM
    near Edna - 32.50' 10/20 10:30 AM (82,200 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    above Comal at New Braunfels - 35.57' 10/17 17:45 PM (142,000 cfs)
    at New Braunfels - 38.54' 10/17 18:15 PM (222,000 cfs)
    at Seguin - 36.80' 10/18 1:00 AM (excess of 250,000 cfs)

  • Blanco River -
    at Wimberley - 28.50' 10/17 2:15 PM (116,000 cfs)
    at Kyle - 35.82' 10/17 (105,000 cfs)

  • San Marcos River -
    at Luling - 41.85' 10/18 6:15 AM (206,000 cfs)

  • Plum Creek -
    at Lockhart - 23.09' 10/18 3:30 AM (47,200 cfs)

  • Sandies Creek (Dewitt County) -
    near Westhoff - 28.80' 10/19 8:00 PM (36,200 cfs)

  • Guadalupe River -
    near Cuero - 50.35' 10/20 12:30 AM (473,000 cfs)
    at Victoria - 34.04' 10/20 2:00 PM (466,000 cfs)
    at Gonzales - 50.44 cfs 10/18 9:00 PM (340,000 cfs)

  • Olmos Creek (Bexar County) -
    at Dresden Drive - 14.01' 10/17 9:30 AM (18,600 cfs)
    Olmos Dam - approximate crest 720', 40' above normal empty condition, McAllister freeway floods at 713.0'

  • San Antonio River -
    at Mitchell Street - 12.94' 10/17 10:15 AM (14,300 cfs)
    at Loop 410 - 32.57' 10/17 4:00 PM (79,400 CFS)

  • Salado Creek -
    NE Loop 410 - 22.40' 10/17 4:00 PM (64,400 cfs)
    SE Loop 13 - 34.07' 10/17 1:00 PM (47,800 cfs)

  • Helotes Creek -
    at Helotes - 15.21' 10/18 1:15 AM (12,600 cfs)

  • Leon Creek -
    SW Military Hwy, Kelly - estimated crest 29.0'
    IH-35 - 24.60' 10/18 5:15 PM (93,300 cfs)

  • Medina River -
    at San Antonio, Hwy 281 - 49.45' 10/18 4:00 (30,000 cfs)

  • San Antonio River -
    near Elmendorf - 64.20' 10/18 12:00 noon (75,000 cfs)
    near Falls City - 33.60' 10/20 6:00 AM (70,000 cfs)

  • Cibolo Creek -
    at Selma - 35.37' 10/17 1:45 PM (98,100 cfs)
    at Schertz - estimated crest 37.00'
    near Falls City - 39.86' 10/19 7:00 AM (47,500 cfs)

  • San Antonio River -
    at Goliad - 51.78' 10/22 12:30 PM (59,200 cfs)
    at Goliad - 51.78' 10/22 12:30 PM (59,200 cfs)