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Tropical rainstorm strikes South Texas, brings flooding, drought relief

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 8/16/2022 Andrew Johnson-Levine

Torrential rainfall from a tropical rainstorm, one that narrowly avoided becoming a tropical depression or named storm, moved through South Texas this weekend and Monday. Although the disturbance brought much-needed relief to one of the most drought-stricken states in the country, it caused scenes of flooding that appeared similar to that of a tropical storm or hurricane.

The hardest-hit locations were focused on southern Texas, including McAllen and Corpus Christi, while also extending westward toward Laredo and Big Bend National Park. Rainfall totals varied from place to place, though according to radar estimates, 11-13 inches fell in the wettest areas over a three-day period.

Many roads across Corpus Christi were underwater during the height of the rain with some motorists getting stranded after trying to navigate through the swamped roads.

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An amateur weather reporter's rain gauge at Encinal, Texas, received the highest confirmed rainfall total, with 10.1 inches of rain. Just 40 miles south in Laredo, 3.74 inches of rain have fallen since Saturday. While the rainfall in Laredo was significant, more than double the average August rainfall total of 1.58 inches, it is an example of how much rainfall totals varied across the region during the tropical rainstorm.

Along the Gulf Coast, Corpus Christi officially picked up 4.1 inches of rain from the storm, though amateur weather observers reported as much as 9.19 inches. Farther south in Brownsville, Texas, around 1.5 inches of rain fell at the city's airport.

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While tropical downpours drenched southern Texas, areas farther north received little to no rainfall. Cities such as Austin and San Antonio avoided the flooding associated with the tropical system, but the limited rainfall did little to aid in easing the ongoing drought. San Antonio only measured 0.22 of an inch of rain during the tropical rainstorm, while Austin only reported a trace of rain, not even enough to measure 0.01 of an inch in rain gauges across the city.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released last week, 96% of Texas was in some stage of drought, with 68% falling into the "extreme" or "exceptional" category.

As is often the case during times of intense drought, much of Texas has had a difficult time escaping the extreme heat until recently. In many cities, the number of days in the triple digits is far above average this year, and only just shy of the record-shattering 2011 season.

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With such widespread drought in place, and with Texas being such a large state, it will take more than just one rainfall event to end the drought. However, the rain from the recent tropical rainstorm might just be the first step that helps the state turn the corner on the long-term drought conditions.

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