Early September brought record-setting rainfall to portions of the South Plains and Rolling Plains. From late on the 10th, to early on the 12th, numerous rain showers moved across the region. The area from Lubbock and Lynn Counties northeast to Hall and Childress counties were hit hardest as lines of heavy showers repeated tracked across this area. The weather pattern responsible for this featured a deep trough of low pressure across the western U.S. This resulted in southwest winds aloft moving from the Pacific Ocean into West Texas. These winds tapped into some rich moisture - including some from Tropical Storm Lowell located near the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. This combined with a weak front which tended to concentrate the showers across the South Plains area. Lubbock received it's highest ever 24 hour rainfall - 7.80 inches. Interestingly, the previous 24-hour record (5.82 inches) was set back in October of 1983 when the area was impacted by the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Tico. In Lubbock, the rainfall inundated the playa lakes, parks and streets across the city, and resulted in a number of flooded homes and flooded out vehicles. To read a detailed public information statement including some other rainfall totals CLICK HERE.
For a more complete listing of 4-day rainfall totals CLICK HERE.
Above is a map that displays the rainfall totals recorded between Tuesday morning and Saturday morning (9-13 September 2008). The map shows that a large swath of 3+ inches fell from the southern South Plains through the southeast Texas Panhandle, with a remarkably large area of 7+ inches running from Lubbock and Lynn counties northeast into Hall county. Although rainfall amounts were much lighter outside the very heavy rain axis, most of the remainder of West Texas still saw between 1/2 and 2 1/2 inches.
Below is a map showing rainfall across the region as estimated by the Lubbock radar. Radar estimates can have varying degrees of error and actual rainfall may be lower or higher depending on the location. Regardless, you can see that the radar estimate does give a good approximation of where the heavy rain fell (comparing the below image to the above map), with the estimated amounts generally on the low side for this event.
Below is a graph of the hourly rainfall rate and accumulated rainfall for the record breaking rain at the Lubbock airport. Of note, the rainfall rates are stout but never incredible, peaking at 1.50 inches in one hour between 5 and 6 pm on the 11th. However, the duration of moderate to heavy rain is impressive, with rain reported every hour between 6 am on the 11th and 6 am on the 12th. In fact, every hour but one between 2 pm and midnight on the 11th had at least two tenths of an inch, with 5 consecutive hours having rain rates over one half inch an hour.
As alluded to earlier, the tremendous amounts of rain did create some problems around the area. Below are some pictures of high water and flooding across the southwest side of Lubbock.