May 10, 2019

Another Round Of Flash Flooding Is Likely In Southeastern Texas Over The Next Few Days

Extensive rainfall over the last week will set the stage for more flash flooding in the Houston area over the next couple of days as another round of extreme rainfall drags across the region. More than half a foot of rain is possible through Saturday as periodic thunderstorms train across southeastern Texas.

NOAA's Weather Prediction Center calls for a ton of rain across the northwestern Gulf Coast over the next seven days. Much of that rain will fall through the weekend. A significant threat for flash flooding will unfold across coastal communities over the next couple of days, with the greatest chances occurring in areas that saw heavy rain earlier this week.

It's important to note that not everybody painted in "build an ark" colors on the above map will see all that rainfall. Rainfall totals will depend on the tracks of individual thunderstorms and where the training thunderstorms set up. Training occurs when heavy thunderstorms continuously develop and moves over the same areas for hours at a time, appearing on radar like train cars moving along railroad tracks.

Houston's Hobby Airport recorded 2.26" of rain in the one hour between 9:53 PM and 10:53 PM on Thursday night. The chance for that kind of flooding rain will persist through early Friday morning, and continue across the region through Saturday before a pattern shift allows things to calm down.

The latest observations between the mornings of May 2 and May 9 show up to a foot of rain has fallen across parts of Harris, Montgomery, and Fort Bend counties in southeastern Texas, covering some of Houston's suburbs. The extreme rainfall totals were rather isolated; unlike Hurricane Harvey, which broke area-wide rainfall records, this week's intense rains were the result of thunderstorms that merged and trained over relatively small areas.

Small as this week's rainfall bullseyes have been, though, they caused significant problems. News reports from Houston described a flash flood in Sugar Land, one of Houston's southwestern suburbs, occurring so quickly that residents barely had time to react to water covering their streets and entering their homes. One resident told the Houston Chronicle that the flooding was "quicker than Harvey." Neighborhoods that didn't flood in Harvey are still at risk for flooding—the ground in the Houston area leaves the entire region susceptible to flooding. Areas that don't flood in one major rainfall event could easily flood in the next as every situation is different.

This region is no stranger to flooding. Hurricane Harvey in 2017 brought the worst flooding ever recorded in southeastern Texas, killing dozens of people and leaving thousands more homeless. Extensive flooding followed more than a foot of rain in some of Houston's suburbs in April 2016, less than a year after double-digit rainfall totals turned area interstates into rivers and left behind nearly half a billion dollars in damages.

[Top Image: Radar at 10:15 PM CDT May 9, 2019, via GREarth/AllisonHouse]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.