Houston swamped by sudden deluge

Thursday 12th Jan 2012 by theWeather Club

Image: Jocelyn Augustino

Heavy rains and high winds have hit parts of Texas around the city of Houston this week, flooding streets and homes and leaving thousands of people without power. The torrential rains led to flash flooding leaving streets impassable and several vehicles underwater.

Timothy Oram, meteorologist for the US National Weather Service said as much as 160mm of rain fell in a 24 hour period, with much of it falling in the second 12 hours. At Houston Hobby Airport, 102mm of rain fell in one day, shattering the previous 9th January record of 64.5 set way back in 1955. At one point the rain was so intense that parts of the city saw 40.5mm fall in just 10 minutes.

"We have a lot of roadways closed, and some evacuations are going on," said Alan Spears of the Fort Bend County office of emergency management. "We had 7,000 people without power in the county." Heavy rain is still falling with Houston seeing a total of 102mm of rain by 4 p.m. on 12th January - four days after the rain first hit- according to the National Weather Service. All this in an area with an average monthly rainfall average is 96mm.

The torrential downpour came as a real shock to many locals, as 2011 was the driest year on record for that area, according to the National Weather Service. However even after the deluge, Texas will officially remain in a drought, years of low rain have left reserves extremely low. “We’re not going to end the drought this winter even if we have above-normal rainfall,” state climatologist John Nielson-Gammon told reporters.