Floods Take Texas, Rinse and Repeat

July 20, 2017
Floods in Texas

May came and with it, once again, floods hit Texas. The Lone Star State is always grateful for good rains—but the recent flooding was ridiculous!

There was more damage from the summer rains than there was on the East Coast where Tropical Storm Bonnie was pounding South Carolina!

Last year Texas had the same problem with enough flooding rainfall in May to completely end its multi-year drought by early June. The floods were deadly and damaging, but the after effect was a blessing for the state’s gardens, farms, ranches and reservoirs.

Yes, there is a link between the month’s El Niño events and floods in Texas.

The last day of the soggy month of May: Tropical Storm Bonnie on the East Coast and thunderstorms from Texas to Canada!

The reason the state had so much rainfall was El Niño. The giant warming pool in the Pacific that alters tropical rainfall patterns throughout the world. In late spring, history shows the event tends to pour tropical water north towards Texas in an “atmospheric river”. It’s like aiming a giant fire hose towards the state. The results are horrendous for the unprepared, but it leaves the state with excellent water reserves to begin the hot summer.

El Niños frequently steer atmospheric rivers from the tropics to Texas.

Texans have been generous; the rain that starts in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. The jet stream has caught the moisture and carried it to the north and east. Summer is starting with most of the Great Plains and the Midwest having a surplus water supply—good subsoil moisture for crops and gardens. It’s even been carried to the Mid-Atlantic states – Washington DC is complaining over May’s record-breaking number of gloomy rainy and cloudy days. (And that was before Bonnie’s remains decided to visit the capital!) 

Summer is beginning with bountiful sub-soil moisture and water supplies for most of the Great Plains and Midwest.

Save the water. El Niño finally faded out in late May. (It may be a few weeks before it is officially declared to be finished.) Most scientists are warning us that it’s cold dry sister La Niña will hit in late summer. For Texas and a lot of the US that means a potential return to drought. The May water surplus will come in handy.



About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.