The Rio Grande floodways are at their max – two gulf storms will probably make things far worse
Well this is just all kinds of peachy. Since most of the news media things nobody lives further south in Texas than San Antonio, I haven’t heard anyone on CNN or FOX or MSNBC mention the fact that the Rio Grande overflow floodways down here are already at their capacity. Now, with two separate storms getting stronger in the gulf, we’re getting near a “crisis” stage on flooding down here.
Right now, here’s what NOAA has forecast coming our way…
The first storm, down by where I live, just formed near the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s coming north west-ish and looks like it might send a bucket or two of water my way.
It probably won’t be a hurricane, but it’s no dainty little spritz bottle either.
Second, and more fugly, is this one still way out by Florida.
It’s got a lot of time to bulk up as it travels over the gulf, but so far the forecasts say it’s not supposed to get near where I live, but just pass by and slightly nick the area.
The problem with both of these storms is that we’re already dangerously close to something pretty damn serious. This next photo is one I took as I crossed over one of the Rio Grande overflow floodways Tuesday. (There’s a “bulge” distortion because I was driving as I took the photo.)
This second photo was midway over the floodway bridge. (I had to lighten the photo because the 1st generation iPhone camera stinks.)
I don’t have a “before” photo for comparison, but trust me, that whole thing was a completely barren wasteland not too long ago. I’m talking as far as you could see. About a five or six story deep valley of absolutely nothing. Dry brush. The occasional south Texas tree. The occasional giant hawk circling overhead for a meal.
Now? It’s River II, the revenge of Rio Grande.
Most of the problem is due to hurricane Alex dumping a ton of water in Mexico a short time ago, and Falcon Dam is constantly releasing water into the Rio Grande because the flood waters on Mexico’s side are already cresting on their own dam walls (no pun intended).
The dam’s constant release has maxed out the floodways, and now with these two new gulf kids wanting to come over and play, you can see how things could get really bad down here.
The Weather Channel did release a “SEVERE” warning about this problem. Here’s the release in its’ entirety…
Local Severe Weather Alert for McAllen, TX (78503)
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BROWNSVILLE HAS EXTENDED THE * HYDROLOGIC ADVISORY FOR… SOUTHERN HIDALGO COUNTY IN DEEP SOUTH TEXAS. THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF…CUEVITAS…LOS EBANOS…HAVANA…LA JOYA…PENITAS…HIDALGO. THIS ALSO INCLUDES PORTIONS OF THE CITIES OF LA VILLA…MERCEDES…PROGRESO…WESLACO…MAINLY FOR LOW WATER BRIDGES…ROADS…AND STRUCTURES INSIDE THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY FLOODWAY SYSTEM. IN ADDITION…THE PORTION OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE RIVER BETWEEN ANZALDUAS DAM NEAR GRANJENO TO RETAMAL DAM NEAR PROGRESSO LAKES. THIS INCLUDES THE SANTA ANA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE…ABOUT 7 MILES EAST OF THE CITY OF HIDALGO. * UNTIL 530 PM CDT THURSDAY * THE EXTREME SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH PORTIONS OF HIDALGO COUNTY NEAR THE LOWER RIO GRANDE RIVER…AS WELL AS LOCATIONS WITHIN AND NEAR THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE FLOODWAY SYSTEM…WILL CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE FLOODING DUE TO VERY HIGH WATER LEVELS ON THE RIVER. THE HIGH WATER LEVEL WILL LIKELY CONTINUE THROUGH THE END OF THE WEEK INTO THE WEEKEND AS THE WATER RELEASES FROM FALCON RESERVOIR CONTINUE. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION IS IN EFFECT FOR THE TOWN OF LOS EBANOS. RESIDENTS HAVE EVACUATED CUEVITAS AS WATER CONTINUES TO ENTER THE TOWN. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION CONTINUES FOR THE CITY OF PENITAS. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION CONTINUES FOR RESIDENTS WHO LIVE NEAR MILITARY HIGHWAY IN THE CITY OF LA JOYA. A VOLUNTARY EVACUATION IS IN EFFECT FOR THE CITY OF HAVANA AND A MANDATORY EVACUATION REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR HOMES SOUTH OF MILITARY ROAD IN THE CITY OF HAVANA. THE CHIMNEY PARK RV RESORT NEAR MADERO CONTINUES TO EXPERIENCE FLOODING AND ANY REMAINING RESIDENTS ARE URGED TO SEEK HIGHER GROUND IMMEDIATELY. FLOOD WATERS APPEAR TO HAVE PEAKED IN THE MAIN FLOODWAY AND THE NORTH FLOODWAY OF THE LOWER RIO GRANDE FLOODWAY SYSTEM. AS OF MONDAY…WATER HAD RISEN TO HALFWAY UP THE LEVEE OF THE FLOODWAYS IN SOME PLACES. FIFTEEN TO TWENTY RESIDENCES WITHIN THE MAIN FLOODWAY SOUTH OF MILITARY HIGHWAY AND “I” ROAD WERE UNDER VOLUNTARY EVACUATION. ANOTHER FIVE HOMES WITHIN THE MAIN FLOODWAY WERE IMPACTED SOUTH OF WESLACO…AND MOST ROADS LEADING TO THE PROGRESO INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE REMAIN CLOSED. LEVEE STRUCTURAL REPAIRS WERE COMPLETED AT THE EDINBURG PUMP STATION IN PENITAS…AND A BERM WAS COMPLETED AT A PUMP NEAR MISSION. IN ADDITION…MAJOR FLOODING CONTINUES INSIDE THE LEVEES DOWNSTREAM OF ANZALDUAS DAM…ABOUT 2 MILES WEST OF GRANJENO…ON THE RIO GRANDE RIVER TO JUST ABOVE THE RETAMAL DAM…ABOUT 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF PROGRESSO LAKES. ALL IRRIGATION PUMPS…LIVESTOCK… AND EQUIPMENT SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM INSIDE THE LEVEES IF NOT ALREADY DONE SO. ADDITIONAL FLOWS DOWN RIVER FROM UPSTREAM RESERVOIRS WILL CONTINUE TO KEEP WATER LEVELS HIGH. STAY TUNED FOR CONTINUING UPDATES ON WATER LEVELS AND POTENTIALLY MORE SERIOUS FLOOD ISSUES FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… RISING WATERS IN THE MAIN AND NORTH FLOODWAY ARE ALSO FLOWING QUICKLY AS WELL. LOW WATER BRIDGES IN SEVERAL AREAS ARE NOW IMPASSIBLE…AND OTHERS WILL BECOME IMPASSIBLE THROUGH THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS. KEEP CHILDREN AND PETS AWAY FROM HIGH WATER! THEY MAY BECOME CAUGHT IN THE TURBULENT FLOW…AND COULD DROWN. DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE THROUGH AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD…AND ESPECIALLY AROUND BARRICADES. DRIVING AROUND FLOOD BARRICADES IS A CLASS B MISDEMEANOR IN THE STATE OF TEXAS…SUBJECT TO FINE OR POSSIBLE IMPRISONMENT. &&
I’ll be heading back out to that floodway bridge area later this week, and I’ll be sure to take either the Sony HD video camera or my plain Sony camera to see how it looks then.
But now I think it would probably be a good time for me to unpack my scuba gear. I wonder how much are life rafts are at Cabela’s?