HOUSTON - Everything is bigger in Texas, correct?
The Houston area is infamous for BIG disasters ranging from the deadliest, most costly and wettest storms on record; not just in Texas but the entire country.
Those infamous titles include:
The Deadliest: The 1900 storm in September 1900 killed 8,000-12,000 people in Galveston and surrounding areas. That storm still ranks as the deadliest on record in the U.S. Houston was just a small railroad town with about 44,000 people at that time.
The Costliest: This has yet to be determined but an estimate by Accu-Weather put Hurricane Harvey's damage at just shy of $200 billion dollars -- well in excess of the $125 billion Katrina caused. Other estimates put the total at around $100 billion making it the second costliest hurricane on record. Either way, the damage in Houston is staggering.
The Wettest: The previous wettest tropical system on record was a storm that hit Hawaii in 1950 and dropped 52 inches of rain. However Harvey dumped 56 inches of rain near Friendswood just south of Houston. Now if it ended there that would be pretty dog-gone impressive. However our neighbors in Beaumont broke Friendswood's record just a few hours later with an astounding 65 inches! 65 INCHES! That's insane, folks! Insane.
24-Hour Rainfall Record: The town of Alvin, south of Houston in Brazoria County, set and still holds the title of the single greatest rainfall total within a 24-hour period in the U.S. at 42 inches thanks to Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979.
Costliest Tropical Storm: Finally, the costliest tropical storm on record is of course Tropical Storm Allison. That storm stalled out over Houston in June 2001 dumping at the time a jaw-dropping 38 inches of rain in northeast Harris County. It is the only tropical storm to ever have its name retired after causing $5 billion in damages.
Needless to say, it rains a lot here in southeast Texas. Our geographic location on the gulf coast on a low-lying swamp along the banks of Buffalo Bayou pretty much cemented our demise long before the first Houston streets were laid back in the early 1800s.
According to Chief Meteorologist David Paul, "the Allen brothers knew they had a problem early on when they arrived here in August 1836. They would write to their friends and relatives back home and encourage them to come visit Houston and see our "beautiful spring water!"
What they didn't say was that that "beautiful spring water" was in the form of tremendous deluges that would compromise the area bayous and turning the area marshes and swamps, choked with brush, into endless torrents of muddy flood water not unlike anything we've seen with Allison or Harvey.
Now if you're a long time Houstonian, you know as well as I do that we've seen floods before and we will again. Our geographic location guarantees it. As the Houston area continues to grow at approximately 1 million people per decade the amount of concrete being poured will continue to impact the way the area absorbs water and drains.
It's best that if you're new to the area, have a plan! More importantly get flood insurance! Many people in the Houston area didn't have flood insurance during Harvey. In fact, fewer than 20% did.
Many people thought that if they didn't flood during Allison then they'd never flood. Harvey proved that records are meant to be broken. While a flood the size of Harvey will likely never happen again in our lifetimes, the statistical chance every year is greater than 0% which means it technically COULD happen again next year. Therefore, be prepared!
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