Saturday, April 14, 2007

MRF: Chocolate Milk River

March 26, 2007 Flood and a twentieth anniversary look back at the 1987 Flood

Flash flooding on the Guadalupe River and tributaries March 26, 2007. Locations in this short are Ingram Dam Lake and Johnson Creek confluence in Ingram, and Goat Creek confluence in Kerrville, Kerr County, Texas. At this last location the flooding has dissipated, but the remnants of the creek blasting past a lawnmower shop are evident. When i first saw this scene there were over a dozen of these big mowers in the creekbed, but workers were moving them back. Only a few remained when i returned to film.

This was a moderate flood for our area, which is highly prone to violent weather and flash flooding. We are centered on the Edwards Plateau in the Texas Hill Country and the deep canyons here collect and disperse water rapidly. The rainfall that enters the ground here feeds the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers which provide San Antonio and Austin, Texas and many smaller towns with their water.

The Balcones Fault Zone creates an uplift that often stalls big wet fronts moving from the northwest as they encounter updrafts of warm, wet Gulf air sweeping off the Texas Coast. Just such a system sat over the county for the several days before and after March 26th, leaving about ten inches total of rain in about a week, most of it coming in two large downpours a couple days apart.

Here's the storm from overhead:

The Guadalupe is the quintessential Texas Hill Country River – scenic and dangerous. In the twenty-plus years i’ve lived here i have seen perhaps 15 or so floods of this magnitude and many smaller ones. I’ve seen four major floods, two of them in the 30-foot hundred-year flood range – one of which (July 1987) is famous for having swept a camp bus off a side road and ten kids to their deaths.

Outside of our recent drought it was fairly commonplace to have three or four small floods a year, and a big one every second or third year. It’s been a while. People die annually in these things in the Hill Country, mostly because folks get impatient and insist on trying to drive across low water crossings. It doesn’t take much to sweep a car downstream and trap folks inside.

film by tony gallucci
Holly Riedel – Executive Producer
special thanks to Joshua Rose.

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