Tropical Storm Erin Hits West Central Texas

 

The remnants of Tropcial Storm Erin brought very heavy rainfall that resulted in a significant flooding event across West Central Texas. Tropical Storm Erin made landfall along the lower Texas coast on Thursday, August 16th. The remnants of this system (a tropical depression) tracked northwest across the south-central part of Texas, and into southern Crockett County, by the early morning hours of the 17th.

 

The airmass became very moist across West Central Texas as this tropical depression entered the region. As a result, the remnants of Tropcial Storm Erin then brought very heavy rainfall to West Central Texas. The first round of heavy rain occurred across the northwest Hill Country Thursday night, when nearly 4 inches of rain fell in southwestern Mason County by the morning of Friday, August 17th. Steady rainfall of 1 to 3 inches, with isolated areas of 3 to 4 inches, occurred across a large part of West Central Texas throughout the rest of Friday, as the tropical depression drifted to the Pecos River along the western border of Crockett County. The two animated radar images below show the depression as it moved across West Central Texas.

Please Click on Images to enlarge.
Figure 1 - Image of radar loop of
                        the remnants of Tropical Depression Erin just west of the Concho Valley.   Figure 2 - Radar loop of remnants of Tropical Storm Erin affecting the Big Country.
Figure 1 - Image of radar loop of the remnants of Tropical Depression Erin just west of the Concho Valley.   Figure 2 - Radar loop of remnants of Tropical Storm Erin affecting the Big Country.

 

As the remnant low pressure system of Erin began to move north toward Snyder Friday night, a very heavy rain band developed from Hamlin to Haskell around 7 PM. This band of heavy rain extended to the south across Abilene and San Angelo, then south across Sonora, Eldorado and into southeastern Crockett County. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 7 inches were common along this rain band, with isolated higher totals of over 9 inches. The following images show the rainfall amounts with and without an objective analysis of the rainfall totals.

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Figure 3 - Rainfall totals from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin.   Figure 4 - Rainfall totals from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin with contoured analysis.
Figure 3 - Rainfall totals from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin.   Figure 4 - Rainfall totals from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin with contoured analysis.

 

The very heavy rainfall caused widespread flash flooding of streets in San Angelo and Abilene. Numerous roads across West Central Texas were also flooded at times. Below are images taken by the city of Abilene that shows the flooding across much of the western side of Abilene due to flooding from Elm Creek. (Images Courtesy of the City of Abilene.)

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Figure 5 - Aerial photo taken near Elm Creek and North 10th.   Figure 6 - Aerial photo taken near Elm Creek and North 1st.
Figure 5 - Aerial photo taken near Elm Creek and North 10th.   Figure 6 - Aerial photo taken near Elm Creek and North 1st.
Figure 7 - Aerial photo of flooding along North and South 1st Streets.   Figure 8 - Aerial photo of flooding between North 1st and North 10th Streets.
Figure 7 - Aerial photo of flooding along North and South 1st Streets.   Figure 8 - Aerial photo of flooding between North 1st and North 10th Streets.

 

The areas hardest hit by the flooding included Abilene, Merkel, Buffalo Gap, Hamlin, Lake Abilene, Fort Phantom Lake, and Roscoe. The excessive rainfall and runoff in these communities resulted in numerous evacuations and high water rescues. Water even entered homes in some of these communities...particularly Hamlin and Abilene. A few homes were also washed away near Coronado's Camp located near Lake Abilene.

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Figure 9 - Graphic depicting areas that had to be evacuated due to flooding in Abilene.
Figure 9 - Graphic depicting areas that had to be evacuated due to flooding in Abilene.

 

The heavy rainfall caused Oak Creek Reservoir to rise 15 feet, to within 4 feet of the spillway, at one point. Lake Sweetwater rose a total of 30 feet. The images below show the dramatic differences in levels of the two bodies of water before and after the flooding took place.

Please Click on Images to enlarge.
Figure 10 - Image showing the difference in lake level of Lake Sweetwater from August 3rd to August 20th (Images courtesy of Grant Madden).   Figure 11 - Image showing the difference in lake level of Oak Creek Reservoir from August 3rd to August 20th.
Figure 10 - Image showing the difference in lake level of Lake Sweetwater from August 3rd to August 20th (Images courtesy of Grant Madden).   Figure 11 - Image showing the difference in lake level of Oak Creek Reservoir from August 3rd to August 20th.

 

Flooding occurred along a few other rivers as well. Moderate flooding occurred on the South Concho River at Christoval, and along the Clear Fork of the Brazos at Fort Griffin. Flooding also occurred along the Clear Fork of the Brazos at Nugent, and on the Elm Creek at Ballinger.

 

 


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