Archive for the ‘Houston Weather History’ Category

Drought Worsens
August 8, 2011

It’s good Jim got here in 1957. That year ended a seven-year drought and some brutally hot temperatures. Usually, the way we get rain in the summer is from sea breeze thunderstorms that spark up in the afternoon. There have been two problems with that this year. First, the ridge of high pressure has been influencing us by bringing in sinking air. That acts to prevent storms from forming. Second, the drought affects temperatures and rain. We’ve been in a drought since Hurricane Ike hit in September 2008. We’ve been getting drier and drier for two and a half years. The combination of dry soils and high pressure creates a weather pattern that brings less rain and hotter temperatures. Look at the graph below and see just how dry June 2011 was compared to the previous 100 years. The first six months of 2011 were the driest first half of any year on record, and it’s not even close. The only hope is to have a tropical system bring heavy rain because our weather pattern won’t change the rest of the summer.


Allison Ten Years Later
June 6, 2011

About 73,000 homes were flooded with property damage at $5 billion.  Allison was the only tropical storm ever to have its name retired.  Sixty-five percent of the homes flooded during Allison were not in a mapped 100-year flood plain.  This is exactly why flood insurance is vitally important. 

Check out house A.  It’s in a 500-year flood plain and has .02 percent chance of flooding this year.  But if you own that home 30 years, it has a 6 percent chance of flooding. That’s not very high, but when you get a storm like Allison you find yourself with that “once in a 500-year flood event.”  If you are out of the 100-year flood plain, flood insurance is relatively inexpensive. 

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Past Weather Quiz Answers

Is Our Hurricane Season Over?
September 28, 2010


Click image to view Tuesday’s webcast:

Houston Flooding
September 29, 2009


As a result of the 1929 and 1935 floods, Harris County Flood Control District was founded in 1937 to prevent continued public calamity caused by great floods and to construct improvements to control flood waters.


April 1929 – Gulf Storm moved over Houston and Harris County lasting 14 hours. Many areas had rainfall of 10 inches or more. All of the Bayous where out of their Banks.


May 24-31,1929 – The worst flood that anyone could remember just a month after the flood in April closed the Houston Central Water Plant. The San Jacinto River rose 30 feet above normal. Heavy rains over the heads of the drainage basins of Buffalo and White Oak Bayous caused the highest flood since 1879. One person was killed. Port of Houston was damaged.



December 1935 – Downtown flooding


According to the Harris County Flood Control District, damage from the 1935 flood totaled nearly $3 million ($41,414,787.72 in today’s dollars) and killed seven people. Twenty-five blocks of downtown Houston were submerged along with 100 residential blocks.


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Past Weather Quiz Answers

The First Time Houston Flooded
September 17, 2009


In April 1837, a lashing flood hit newly-formed Houston. Only a few months later, in early October, a hurricane hit and caused the bayous to rise four feet at Main Street. The very next year, it was incredibly cold. On February 2, 1838, the temperature dropped to 16 degrees and it was 22 degrees on the 16th.

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Past Weather Quiz Answers

The Great Storm
September 8, 2009


September 8, 1900, the deadliest hurricane to ever hit the United States made land in Galveston. A category 4 storm with 135mph winds and a 15-foot storm surge roared upon the Island and killed 6,000 – 12,000 people. This storm is why we have a seawall.  Some deaths were attributed to drowning during the storm surge.  Others died after being trapped under wreckage for days following the hurricane.  The storm ranks as the worst disaster in U.S. history in terms of loss of life.  The vast majority of the structures on the island were destroyed.

The meteorology at the time believed hurricanes didn’t hit Texas.


The best book I’ve ever read on the Great Storm is by Erik Larson.  “Isaac’s Storm” is the story about the meteorologist in charge of forecasting Galveston weather and what lead up to this disaster.  Even if you know nothing about weather, this is a facinating tale of the place, the people and the tragedy that affects Galveston to this day.   


Ask Anthony
July 8, 2009

From John:

Why is Houston’s weather only done at IAH? Why not from 4 points around Houston and then take the average?

It’s not only done at Bush Intercontinental, but IAH is the official weather station for Houston.  There needs to be a precision for records — that’s why you don’t see an average.  Also, people want to know what the temperature is where they live.  When fronts move through the temperature difference from Tomball to Pearland can be 10-20 degrees. 

If you watch me in the morning, the Titan Temperatures I use are averaged, so you are getting your wish.  I also have a temperature tour map that shows the difference between the cities. 



The choice to have Bush Intercontinental as the official recording station came from the aviation community.  There was pressure to have observations at the airports as the airline industry grew. Since human observers were required to take the readings, it did not make financial sense to keep multiple observation sites in place, so downtown office observation sites were moved to the airports.  The switch was not driven by climate parameters but rather by aviation interests.

Here is the history of record keeping in Houston (From the National Weather Service):

“The history of the Houston office can be traced as far back as 1881, when a cotton station (in an unknown location in Harris County) was used as a base for taking weather observations. As the city of Houston grew, the need for a Weather Bureau Office resulted in the establishment of the Houston office downtown on September 16, 1909. Between 1909 and 1968, the Houston Weather Bureau office occupied three separate locations in the downtown area – the Stewart Building (at Preston and Fannin Streets), the Shell Builiding (at Texas and Fannin Streets) and its last location downtown at the Federal Building (at Franklin and Fannin Streets). The expanding needs of the old Weather Bureau forced a move out of the downtown area. In 1970, the National Weather Service moved the Houston area office to Alvin (southwest of Houston). Around that same time, as a part of the move out of downtown, the weather observations part of operations moved to the its now current site at Houston Intercontinental Airport in northern Harris County.”

Fourth of July Hurricanes
July 3, 2009



On the Fourth of July, there has been only one tropical storm or hurricane that has made landfall anywhere between Matagorda Bay and the Texas-Louisiana border since 1871. Way back in 1874, a hurricane made landfall in the Matagorda Bay area. Since then, not a single tropical cyclone has made landfall along the upper Texas coast on Independence Day.

For a complete history of our fourth of July weather click here:

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Ask Anthony
July 1, 2009

I want to pass along the June temperature records you reported this morning, but cannot find them.  Can you post them to your blog? Please?

Dave Hathaway