Wettest Month Ever in Texas – 23 Dead, 9 Missing, River Levels Dangerously High


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Historic flooding in Texas and Oklahoma has killed at least 23 people since Saturday 23 May 2015 when huge amounts of rain fell in the 2 states. As of Thursday 28 May, nine people were still missing. Rescue teams have already pulled out over 100 people from flood water that was flowing with such force that some were carried 12 miles downstream.

On Saturday 23 May 2015, heavy rain fell late at night causing the Blanco River to overflow, flooding hundreds of homes in Hays County, Texas, including areas near Wimberley and San Marcos.

More than 10 inches (25.4 cm) of rain fell in parts of Houston during the evening of Monday 25 May 2015, causing widespread flash flooding in the city. Latest reports say that 4 people died in the flash floods in Houston, and between 800 and 1,400 homes have been damaged.

Wettest Month Ever in Texas

Some areas of Texas and Oklahoma have received over 20 inches (50 cm) of rain this month. The state of Texas has seen an average of 7.54 (19 cm) inches of rain in May. According to State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, that makes May 2015 the wettest ever in Texas ever, breaking the old record of 6.66 inches (17 cm) set in June 2004.

Quoted by Texas A and M University, he said, “Many parts of the state have set records for the most rainfall ever.”

According to Nielsen-Gammon, the reason for the heavy rainfall is a combination of factors: an active El Niño in the Pacific Ocean which tends to bring the jet stream over Texas, a steady flow of moist air from the south that becomes unstable when it undercuts the jet stream, and a stubborn weather pattern “that just won’t go away”.

“It has been one continuous storm after another for the past week to 10 days in several regions of the state.  It has rained so much that the ground just can’t soak any more moisture into it, and many creeks and rivers are above flood stage,” he said.

Rainfall, hail, strong winds and tornadoes have continued to affect Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas this week and there is more to come.

Rainfall totals for May 2015 in Texas. Image: NOAA
Rainfall totals for May 2015 in Texas. Image: NOAA

Severe weather, including more rain, has been forecast for Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, possibly affecting 14 million people. The US National Weather Service are now warning that river levels in Texas are dangerously high and further flooding is likely.

River Levels

The overflowing Brazos River in Parker County has forced hundreds to evacuate their homes. Levels of the Colorado River are dangerously high, prompting evacuations in Wharton. The San Jacinto River which runs through suburbs of Houston was already 4 feet above flood stage yesterday, Thursday 28 May 2015.

Engineers from the 111th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, working with local first responders, rescue three people from a stalled vehicle stuck in low water crossing, May 26, 2015 near Granbury, Texas. Photo: Texas Military Forces
Engineers from the 111th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, working with local first responders, rescue three people from a stalled vehicle stuck in low water crossing, May 26, 2015 near Granbury, Texas. Photo: Texas Military Forces
Engineers from the 111th Engineer Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, working with local first responders, rescue three people from a stalled vehicle stuck in low water crossing, May 26, 2015 near Granbury, Texas. Photo: Texas Military Forces
Photo: Texas Military Forces