Just six weeks after being drenched by record-setting rainfall, much of Texas has been inundated again by a seemingly endless stream of slow-moving thunderstorm systems. Water levels on the Brazos River, near Houston, crested higher than they have in more than a century. The Texas governor declared states of emergency in 31 counties by June 1, 2016.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired these images of southeastern Texas on May 28, 2016 (top) and May 4, 2013 (second image). The top image shows flooding along the Brazos River just west of Monaville, while the second image shows the river when it was well within its banks. In 2014, the river nearly ran dry in places due to drought. The images below from the same days show the wider scale of the flooding.
On June 2, 2016, the Brazos River rose to 54.81 feet, according to gauges near Richmond, Texas. (The previous record was 50.30 feet on October 21, 1994.) Downstream at Rosharon, the river reached 51.97 feet; anything above 51.3 feet is considered major flooding at that point. Forecasters expect water levels to remain high for up to three weeks because more storms are predicted for early June and because swollen reservoirs upstream will need to release water.
According to news reports, at least six people have died and hundreds have been evacuated by boat from flooded homes. Hundreds (perhaps thousands) of buildings and homes have been damaged, and many roads have been closed.
According to news sources, Texas was doused with more than 35 trillion gallons of rain in May 2016. Meteorologists attribute the wet spring to lingering effects of El Niño and to kinks in the jet stream that have slowed down weather systems while drawing in moisture from the warm Gulf of Mexico..
References and Related Reading
- CNN (2016, June 2) More flooding in Texas after historic May. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- National Weather Service (2016) Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- Houston Chronicle (2016, June 2) Heavy downpours hit Houston area; more showers expected through Saturday. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- Houston Chronicle (2016, June 1) Brazos River crest could match 1957 record. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- Reuters (2016, June 1) Texas’ Brazos River hits century high, Houston braces for floods. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- U.S. Geological Survey (2016) Texas Water Dashboard. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- U.S. Geological Survey (2016, June 1) Temporary Streamgauges Installed to Assist Texas Flood Response. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- The Washington Post (2016, May 31) This is why parts of Texas are enduring yet another torrential spring. Accessed June 2, 2016.
- The Weather Channel (2016, June 2) State of Disaster Declared in 31 Flooded Texas Counties as Storm Dumps More Rain. Accessed June 2, 2016.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.
- Landsat 8 - OLI