Parts of the Houston area were pounded by as much as six to 10 inches of rain Tuesday. With the rain falling in a matter of hours, the pounding downpours led to significant flooding.
In at least one location near the city, water rose higher than during Hurricane Harvey. CNN reported Houston’s Fire Department received 250 calls for high water rescues, and the flooding stranded 60 students at an elementary school.
Tuesday may have only been a preview as the forecast calls for more torrential rain in the days ahead. Additional rounds of flooding are likely.
Tuesday’s torrential rains were focused to the southwest and northeast of Houston, although several inches were reported in parts of the city itself.
In some places as much as half a foot fell in little more than an hour or two. A sample of the bigger totals across the region includes 10.28 inches in Sugar Land (where one gauge measured 5.16 inches of rain in just an hour and 15 minutes), 9.38 inches in Richmond, 6.43 inches near Eagle Lake, and 6.24 inches in Spring. The Weather Service office there has a fuller list.
“The areas hit severely [Tuesday] were isolated, but they were also heavily populated,” Space City Weather meteorologist Matt Lanza wrote to the Capital Weather Gang.
This wasn’t the first episode of flooding in recent days, either. “Some folks in Kingwood flooded just last week,” Lanza said.
To the southwest of Houston, near the town of Needville, Big Creek started Tuesday with water levels around three feet and well below flood stage. Overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday it was sitting near 22 feet, or just shy of the record there and higher than 21.71 feet during the massive floods from Harvey.
More rain is on the way. Weather Service forecasts through the weekend are around or just north of seven inches in Houston itself.
The excessive rainfall is predicted to be widespread. A giant area of at least four to six inches is predicted over much of eastern Texas, southern Arkansas, western Mississippi and a big chunk of Louisiana. In anticipation of the rain, flood watches have been issued for most of that region and more are likely to come.
The rain is coming from the same storm system responsible for severe weather in the Plains Tuesday, and the threat for more Wednesday. The cold front with this storm is slated to stall out in Texas and near the northern Gulf Coast. As a result, deep moisture will feed into showers and storms repeatedly moving over the same locations along and near the front.
Lanza wrote that there are “two or three more rounds of heavy rain to contend with tonight through Saturday, and as each one passes, the flooding risks will increase.” He expects similar rainfall totals to what the Weather Service is forecasting. “We will almost certainly be looking at additional flooding,” he wrote.
And if it seems like Houston flooding is frequently in the news, that’s because it is.
The city is often under flood threat, and a number of major episodes have occurred there in recent years. It’s been enough for local weather blog Space City Weather to create a flood risk scale. This current episode rates a 3 out of 5. In 2018, residents voted for huge new flood control measures with the historic floods from Harvey fresh in their minds.