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 (before) and May 4, 2013 (second image). The before 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.
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.
The intense rainfall capped off the wettest month in Texas history, with a state average of 7.54 inches. The previous record was 6.66 inches in 2004. According to news sources, Texas was doused with more than 35 trillion gallons of rain in the month. 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. Houston has received 24.84 inches of rain since March 1; the norm is 11.64 inches.
Images: NASA Earth Observatory– Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.