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Houston Weekend Storm and U.S. Record Point Rainfalls

By: Christopher C. Burt, 7:58 PM GMT on April 29, 2013

Houston Weekend Storm and U.S. Record Point Rainfalls

Last Saturday evening (April 27th) the Houston area was swamped by as much as 8” of rain, most of which fell in just a couple of hours. The city’s official weather site at Houston’s Hobby Airport measured 3.07” in one hour with an amazing 0.69” of this falling in one 3-minute period according to the site’s METAR reports. Also in this blog is a table of record point U.S. rainfalls for various periods of time.

The Houston storm

A slow moving group of thunderstorms accompanied by torrential rain and hail drifted over the greater Houston area late Saturday afternoon and evening. Rainfall was heaviest in the southwestern section of the city where a maximum accumulation of 8.12” was reported at a MESONET site in Sugarland-Meadows Place. As one can see on the map below, the heavy precipitation was confined to a relatively small area but included most of Houston’s downtown core, but with little rain falling over the northern suburbs.

Storm totals for the April 27-28 event in the Houston area. Hobby Airport on the south side of town picked up 6.31” whereas Houston International Airport, on the north side of town, received only a 0.26” total. Most of the storm rainfall fell in the two-hour period of 5-7:p.m on April 27th. Map from NWS-Houston.

The storm reached its peak intensity over Hobby Airport between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening. The following amounts of rainfall were reported at the site during the time frames mentioned:

0.69” in 3 minutes (5:26-5:29 p.m.)

1.21” in 7 minutes (5:22-5:29 p.m.)

2.18” in 19 minutes (5:22-5:41 p.m.)

2.77” in 34 minutes (5:07-5:41 p.m.)

3.07” in 1 hour (4:53-5:53 p.m.)

Here are the raw METARS for that amazing hour:

METAR reports for KHOU (Houston Hobby Airport) between 4:53 p.m. and 5:53 p.m. on April 27th.

Of course, flash flooding occurred in many neighborhoods and along most highways in the city with over 20 water rescues being made by local emergency services. Hail reports of up to golf-ball size and accumulating several inches were fairly common.

A view of the area near Reliant Stadium on the city’s south side at the height of the storm. Note all the hail wash. Photo by ‘Instagram’, from Houston News 92.5 FM.

U.S. record point rainfalls

Impressive though the rainfall at Hobby Airport was, it fell well short of the heaviest rainfalls over brief periods of time that have so far been recorded in U.S. history. Texas has, in the past, recorded some of these records, such as the 3.95” that fell in 15 minutes at Galveston on June 4, 1871.

Below is a chart of the most intense rainfalls to occur over various periods of time in U.S.:

Table reproduced from my book ‘Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book’ and based upon a variety of sources.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Mini Blog Extreme Weather Precipitation Records

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

have there ever been rain rates in the US higher then that ??

was wondering if would be equivalent to rain rates in hurricanes ..
An interesting set of numbers because of how old so many of them are. Given how climate change is supposed to create more intense events, would you expect there to be some a little more recent?
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