As weather extremes continue to take their toll on the U.S., it pays to be informed on the cause and effect of its related disasters. Case and point: 2015 Texas flooding, a combined calamity of natural and man-made predicaments whose cleanup and repair is still underway – and expected to cost the Lone Star State an estimated $3 billion in damages.
A Great Big Sopping Mess
The state’s wettest year on record since 1895, when data began to be compiled, statewide yearly rainfall for 2015 totaled 41.39 inches, surpassing 40.22 inches in 1941 and 39.45 inches in 1919, floating to the top of the rankings.
Every three to 12 years, warm surface currants in the pacific heat the air above, causing it to rise in massive columns and thwart regular flow patterns, a phenomenon referred to as El Nino, of which 2015’s was the strongest on record. Particularly sensitive to these influences, this bump of subtropical jet streams north brought a more than steady supply of airborne moisture, adding to Texas’ flooding issues.
The jumbo-sized state also experienced an array of terrain-related drainage issues, including Texas’ hilly, limestone and rock covered west which shuttled devastating flows to outlying areas, and the Gulf Coast area east of I-35 which is ripe with drainage issues due to its dense, clay-capped soils and low, flat geography. And the biggest terrain problem of all….
A Sinking Ship
As of April of that year, before the barrage of rain began, Texas was in a severe drought – a four-year water shortage to be exact. Instilling a practice of pumping groundwater to meet the state’s water demands, “subsidence” resulted: A condition in which the ground literally loses elevation as water is sucked out from under it, creating conditions ripe for standing water. Though sinkage rates had recently stabilized in recent years, in the past some areas around Houston sunk at rates of up to three inches per year. Combined with rising rainfall amounts – and sea levels – and conditions were ripe for disaster.
More Than a Drop in the Bucket
Following the record-setting rains of that year, Texas flooding brought state water tables up so much they officially ended the four-year water shortage. The Edwards Aquifer, covering over 1,250 square miles of area under the central part of the state, saw a rise of 7-8 feet following the May floods alone.
With the help of the knowledge gleaned from events like the Texas flooding in 2015, Rainbow International® hopes to garner awareness of flood preparedness and safety. If you or your family find yourselves the unfortunate victims of a home flood, don’t weather the storm alone. Contact Rainbow International today.
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