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Hydrometeorological Analysis of Tropical Storm Hermine and Central Texas Flash Flooding, September 2010

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  • 1 Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
  • | 2 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Abstract

Heavy rainfall and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Hermine occurred on 7–8 September 2010 across central Texas, resulting in several flood-related fatalities and extensive property damage. The largest rainfall totals were received near Austin, Texas, and immediately north, with 24-h accumulations at several locations reaching a 500-yr recurrence interval. Among the most heavily impacted drainage basins was the Bull Creek watershed (58 km2) in Austin, where peak flows exceeded 500 m3 s−1. Storm cells were trained over the small watershed for approximately 6 h because of the combination of a quasi-stationary synoptic feature slowing the storm, orographic enhancement from the Balcones Escarpment, and moist air masses from the Gulf of Mexico sustaining the storm. Weather Research and Forecasting Model simulations with and without the Balcones Escarpment terrain indicate that orographic enhancement affected rainfall. The basin received nearly 300 mm of precipitation, with maximum sustained intensities of 50 mm h−1. The Gridded Surface Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis (GSSHA) model was used to simulate streamflow from the event and to analyze the flood hydrology. Model simulations indicate that the spatial organization of the storm during intense rainfall periods coupled with surface conditions and characteristics mediate stream response.

Corresponding author address: Chad Furl, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249. E-mail: nfk796@my.utsa.edu

Abstract

Heavy rainfall and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Hermine occurred on 7–8 September 2010 across central Texas, resulting in several flood-related fatalities and extensive property damage. The largest rainfall totals were received near Austin, Texas, and immediately north, with 24-h accumulations at several locations reaching a 500-yr recurrence interval. Among the most heavily impacted drainage basins was the Bull Creek watershed (58 km2) in Austin, where peak flows exceeded 500 m3 s−1. Storm cells were trained over the small watershed for approximately 6 h because of the combination of a quasi-stationary synoptic feature slowing the storm, orographic enhancement from the Balcones Escarpment, and moist air masses from the Gulf of Mexico sustaining the storm. Weather Research and Forecasting Model simulations with and without the Balcones Escarpment terrain indicate that orographic enhancement affected rainfall. The basin received nearly 300 mm of precipitation, with maximum sustained intensities of 50 mm h−1. The Gridded Surface Subsurface Hydrologic Analysis (GSSHA) model was used to simulate streamflow from the event and to analyze the flood hydrology. Model simulations indicate that the spatial organization of the storm during intense rainfall periods coupled with surface conditions and characteristics mediate stream response.

Corresponding author address: Chad Furl, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at San Antonio, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249. E-mail: nfk796@my.utsa.edu
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