San Antonio braces for high winds and flooding from Hurricane... (2023)

With hundreds of evacuees fleeing Hurricane Harvey and taking shelter in San Antonio, the city braced for a massive, slow-moving storm that could pack gusts up to 50 mph winds and dump up to a foot of rain on parts of the Alamo City over the next several days.


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Harvey was upgraded to a powerful Category 4 hurricane hours before making landfall overnight, with coastal areas bearing the brunt of wind damage and expected to receive up to 30 inches of rain. The National Weather Service also is predicting severe flooding through Wednesday in towns along the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers that lie between the Interstate 35 corridor and the coast.

San Antonio braces for high winds and flooding from Hurricane... (58)

The National Weather Service predicted the storm would stall over northern Karnes County, a little farther inland than had been expected.

The service also is predicting severe flooding through Wednesday in towns along the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers that lie between the Interstate 35 corridor and the coast.


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Forecasters issued flood and tropical storm warnings for San Antonio, though the amount of rainfall is less certain. The weather service said swirling bands of storm clouds will dump heavy rain on the region through Tuesday. Meteorologists predicted 6 to 12 inches of rain along the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to Austin, with more possible in isolated pockets.

That kind of rain will turn creeks into rushing torrents in San Antonio and other cities in the region, often called Flash Flood Alley. In Bexar County, where around 177 low water crossings could be inundated with floodwaters, local officials urged San Antonians to stay home if they don’t need to travel.

“Stay off the road,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged at a televised news briefing Friday. “Don’t add to the hazard.”

“Let’s all use good common sense,” County Judge Nelson Wolff said. “Let’s stay home and cherish our families.”


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City and county leaders said evacuees should head to 200 Gembler Road near the AT&T Center on the East Side, where they’ll be directed to the appropriate shelter during the storm. As of Friday afternoon, about 700 evacuees had sought shelter in San Antonio, Nirenberg said.

The American Red Cross is seeking shelter volunteers who can sign up at the organization’s main office at 3642 E. Houston St. from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.


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Crews with CPS Energy are preparing for possible power outages caused by wind gusts of 60 mph that are predicted for San Antonio. The utility said nearly 250 electric and gas employees from five locations around the city have been mobilized to restore any lost service.

Superintendents of Bexar County school districts will decide Sunday as a group whether to cancel classes Monday, the first day of school for many of them.

Activities stopped Friday at two major military training hubs in San Antonio where as many as 10,000 Air Force recruits and Army medics learn their trades.

The Air Force conducted its basic training graduation ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland early Friday, saluting 855 new airmen before a crowd of around 5,000 people. Airmen were told that they could venture downtown Friday afternoon and evening, but they were ordered to return to Lackland at 6 p.m.


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They’ll be restricted to base for the remainder of the weekend so they do not become caught in flooding.

“That’s the biggest precaution we’re taking,” said Bob Rubio, spokesman for the 37th Training Wing. “We didn’t want to put families that were unfamiliar with San Antonio in a situation where they might get caught up in low water crossings.”

At Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, classes for combat medic students were closed Friday, and training for roughly 2,300 soldiers stopped there and at Camp Bullis in Northwest Bexar County, said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Army Medical Department Center and School.

Weather forecasters warned of “life-threatening and catastrophic heavy rainfall” in the region east of I-35 and I-37, with rainfall totals of 10 to 20 inches. They said up to 30 inches of rain was possible in that area south of I-10.


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“As of right now, the bull’s eye of heavy rainfall is primarily going to be east of (Interstate) 35, which is going to be a much slower flood, compared to the big, fast flash flood that you get in the Hill Country,” said Paul Yura, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office for Austin and San Antonio.

But he cautioned that the weather forecast hinged on predicting the path of an unpredictable hurricane. The rainfall prediction of 6 to 12 inches along the I-35 corridor could change as more information is gathered about the storm, which had grown Friday to a major Category 3 hurricane and hours later to a Category 4, with sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph.

As of 7 p.m. Friday, the NWS’ River Forecast Center in Fort Worth had only released flooding forecasts in Bexar County for the San Antonio River at Elmendorf and the Medina River at U.S. 281. The San Antonio River was running around 12 feet Friday but is set to swell to 36 feet Monday. The Medina River could rise from 3½ feet to 17 feet by then.

“We want to make sure we limit our false alarms while making sure we have as much lead time as possible,” service coordination hydrologist Greg Waller said.


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Downtown San Antonio is relatively protected from flooding thanks to huge projects such as the Olmos Dam, floodgates that isolate the horseshoe-shaped bend of the River Walk and two underground tunnels along the San Antonio River and San Pedro Creek. The tunnels take water from north of downtown, channel it underground and release it at outfalls south of downtown.

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Other parts of the city are more vulnerable, though San Antonio alone has spent more than $350 million on flood control dams, basins and channels since 2007. For the most part, those structures are designed for 100-year-storms — those that have a 1 percent chance of occurring every year. Rains on the higher end of the forecast could reach that threshold, city Transportation and Capital Improvements Assistant Director Art Reinhardt said.

“It all depends,” Reinhardt said. “Just east of I-35, it could be a much different case if the storm changes track with 20-plus inches. So if it shifts any, we just have to keep watching.”

Since 1946, the most rain San Antonio ever received on a single day was 11.26 inches at San Antonio International Airport on Oct. 17, 1998, when an intense storm hovered over the region and caused widespread floods, killing 31 people.


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In a 100-year storm, the city could see flows in the San Antonio River near Loop 410 on the South Side reach close to 90,000 cubic feet per second, said Stephen Graham, the San Antonio River Authority’s assistant general manager. Its normal flow is usually around 10 cfs.

“We believe it will stay within the (river) banks in the city limits, but it will be very full,” Graham said. During the intense storm of 1998 and in another in 2002, the river was 70 percent full, Graham said.

About 15,000 residential and commercial structures in Bexar County are in flood plains and at high risk of flooding, SARA spokesman Steven Schauer said. Only around 7,300 of those buildings are insured against floods, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

New Braunfels will likely see flooding on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, as will San Marcos on the Blanco River, by Sunday night. In New Braunfels, the Guadalupe is set to rise from around 10 feet to 14 feet and the Comal from around 4 feet to 13 feet. The Blanco River in San Marcos could rise from a little more than 7 feet to 19 feet.


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Downstream towns on the San Antonio River will see extreme floods early next week. Forecasters predict that the river will rise at Floresville from a little more than 5 feet to 23.3 feet by noon Monday. At Goliad, the river is likely to rise from 4 feet to nearly 32 feet by Tuesday afternoon.

Flooding predictions are equally dire for downstream towns on the Guadalupe. By Monday night, forecasters predict, that river will rise from 12 feet to 45 feet at Gonzales, from 8 to 44 at Cuero and from 6½ to 32 in Victoria.

SARA is watching water levels behind the 41 flood control dams the agency maintains along the river: 28 in Bexar County and 13 in Karnes County, Graham said.

These dams operate like the Olmos Dam, but they are smaller, usually earthen or rock dams that can be difficult to spot. SARA has dams near McAllister Park, along Salado Creek, under the airport and at the Silverhorn Golf Course, for example.


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SARA officials are also working on flood predictions with the city, county and National Weather Service, running simulations on how various rainfall levels could affect the city and the river, SARA general manager Suzanne Scott said, adding that SARA has access to remote sensors it can use to detect floods. She did not speculate when asked how high the river could rise.

“It really just depends on how much water we get,” she said.

Staff Writers Vianna Davila, Sig Christenson, Patrick Danner, Lauren Caruba and Anne Millerbernd contributed to this report.


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John Tedesco joined the Houston Chronicle’s investigations team in January 2019 after spending 20 years digging up stories in Texas as an investigative reporter.

John previously worked at the Chronicle’s sister paper, the San Antonio Express-News, where he wrote about the worst hot-air balloon crash in U.S. history near Lockhart, Texas, and the environmental toll of widespread natural-gas flares in the Eagle Ford Shale.

John was one of the reporters in a joint investigation by the Chronicle and the Express-News that revealed how 700 people – most of them children – had been sexually abused by pastors, employees and volunteers in Southern Baptist churches. The newspapers’ series, Abuse of Faith, sparked nationwide calls for reform.

Some of John’s best stories started with a basic news tip from someone like you who had important information to share. Every method to get in touch with him can be found on this page or John’s website.

Brendan Gibbons covers the environment and water for the San Antonio Express-News. He joined the staff in October 2015 after two years of environmental reporting at The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania. A native of Grand Junction, Colorado, Brendan earned a degree in science journalism at the University of Missouri in 2013. He has worked as a copy editor for an English-language news site in Vietnam and as a staff writer for the online magazine Practical eCommerce. Other odd jobs included a stint as a science aide monitoring birds for the U.S. Forest Service and as an office assistant for a plant science lab in Missouri.

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Have any hurricanes ever hit San Antonio? ›

In early September 1921, the remnants of a Category 1 hurricane brought damaging floods to areas of Mexico and the U.S. state of Texas, particularly in the San Antonio region.

When was the last hurricane in San Antonio Texas? ›

The first storm to impact the state during the period is also Hurricane Allen in August 1980, with the most recent being Hurricane Harvey on August 25, 2017.

Is San Antonio Texas prone to flooding? ›

Overall, San Antonio has a moderate risk of flooding over the next 30 years, which means flooding is likely to impact day-to-day life within the community. This is based on the level of risk the properties face rather than the proportion of properties with risk.

What is hurricane season in San Antonio Texas? ›

The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.

What city in Texas has the most hurricanes? ›

But the cities of Galveston and Houston have experienced by far the most severe hurricane damage of any Texas city over the last century. In fact, The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Which major Texas city is often hit by hurricanes? ›

Galveston and Indianola have major hurricanes which bear their names.

Where does it flood in San Antonio? ›

Most of the flooding across the city was in north central and northwest San Antonio along and just inside Loop 410. This rain event occurred a day after another heavy rain event with parts of the city receiving over two inches.

What was the biggest flood in Texas? ›

The "Night of Horrors" September 8, 1900, begins as a 15-foot storm surge rolls across Galveston, Texas, killing over 8,000. Dawn breaks over a grisly scene of bodies in the streets. The Galveston flood is remembered even to this day as the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

What year did San Antonio freeze? ›

In San Antonio, the worst year for days of consecutive freezing was December 1983 with 15 days under 32 degrees.

Has the Riverwalk in San Antonio ever flooded? ›

Serious flooding of the San Antonio River occurred in 1845, 1865, 1880, 1899, and twice in 1913.

What city in Texas has the most floods? ›

Austin lies in the heart of 'flash flood alley', where there is a higher potential for flooding than in any other region of the U.S. Central Texas has rocky, clay-rich soil and steep terrain that makes this area uniquely vulnerable to major flooding.

What was the biggest flood in San Antonio? ›

Big Flood of '21

On September 9, 1921, a storm event created from the remnants of a hurricane moved through Central Texas and produced over 7 inches of rainfall in downtown San Antonio and the near west side of the city.

What is the safest place to survive a hurricane? ›

If you can, stay on the first floor of your home. This is the safest place to be during a hurricane. The lower level of your house is grounded in its foundation to withstand high winds and will not be as vulnerable to large falling debris, but it also has a far lower risk of flooding compared to a basement.

What is the rainiest month in San Antonio Texas? ›

Normally, May is San Antonio's rainiest month with an average monthly rainfall of 4.40″.

Is San Antonio a good place to live? ›

Want to live in a big city with a small town vibe? San Antonio might be exactly what you're looking for! The seventh largest city in the U.S. offers affordable living, family-friendly activities, excellent food, and so much more. If you're thinking about moving down south, Alamo City may be the place for you.

Which three 3 states are most frequently hit by hurricanes? ›

States where major hurricanes hit the most
RankStateAll hurricanes
-Entire Atlantic & Gulf Coast301
16 more rows
Aug 26, 2022

What 3 states are most likely to be hit by a hurricane? ›

Where Do Hurricanes Hit the Most in the United States?
  • Florida: 120 hurricanes (37 were Category 3 through Category 5)
  • Texas 64 hurricanes (19 were Category 3 through Category 5)
  • North Carolina: 55 hurricanes (7 were Category 3 through Category 5)
  • Louisiana: 54 hurricanes (17 were Category 3 through Category 5)

What part of Texas is safe from hurricanes and tornadoes? ›

While no part of Texas is immune from tornadoes, areas of far West Texas, El Paso, and Central Texas see the lowest occurrence of tornadoes in the state.

What city has the worst hurricanes? ›

10 U.S. Cities that Are Most Frequently Hit by Hurricanes (1871-2019)
  • Miami, FL — 5.1 hurricanes per decade.
  • Cape Canaveral, FL — 5.1 hurricanes per decade.
  • Fernandina Beach, FL — 5.1 hurricanes per decade.
  • Saint Augustine, FL — 4.9 hurricanes per decade.
  • Palm Beach, FL — 4.9 hurricanes per decade.
Jul 17, 2020

Does Florida or Texas have more hurricanes? ›

The Lone Star State was found to have 19 major hurricanes, but 64 hurricanes overall. Texas was close in ranking with Louisiana, which came out as 3rd most impacted by hurricanes, but Florida took the title as most impacted.

What part of Texas had the best weather? ›

The city with the BEST WEATHER in Texas is Fort Worth.

Do I need flood insurance in San Antonio? ›

The purchase of flood insurance is mandatory to qualify for Federal or federally-backed financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in high-risk flood areas (Special Flood Hazard Areas).

Where do floods hit the most? ›

While flooding can occur anywhere in the US, Gulf Coast states get hit the most often and the hardest compared to others.

Where does San Antonio gets its water from? ›

Encompassing an area of 8 counties across south-central Texas, including San Antonio and our surrounding communities, the Edwards Aquifer is the main water supply source for the region and provides water flows for endangered species habitat.

When was the last big flood in San Antonio? ›

The Alamo City officially got 11.26″ of rain on Oct. 17, 1998. Lives were lost, homes were damaged, and South Texas communities were left with the devastating remains of a 500-year-flood. Here is KSAT's complete video documentary of the South Texas flood of 1998.

Which part of Texas gets the most flash floods? ›

In Texas, especially in central Texas and West Texas, flash floods are a common and real danger. In hilly terrain, flash floods can strike with little or no advance warning.

What was the worst flood ever? ›

Summary of the 6 Biggest Floods Ever Recorded on Earth
RankFlood NameLocation
1Great Drowning of Men (1219)British Isles, The Netherlands, Germany
2The Johnstown Flood (1889)Johnstown, Pennsylvania
31887 Yellow River FloodQing, China
4Yangtze River Flood (1931)China
2 more rows
Apr 7, 2023

Has it ever snowed in San Antonio? ›

San Antonio last recorded significant snowfall amounts in 1985, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That year, more than 13 inches powdered the ground. But in more recent years light dustings - usually not more than an inch - have been recorded around Alamo City.

Will it snow in San Antonio 2023? ›

November 2022 to October 2023. Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in early to mid-January and early to mid-February. Precipitation will be below average, but snowfall will be above average in the north, with the best chances for snow in mid- to late January and early February.

Will it snow in Texas 2023? ›

Precipitation-wise, the Farmers' Almanac is predicting a stormy winter, especially for the eastern half of the country. January 2023 looks to be the stormiest for many areas including Texas and Oklahoma, where heavy snow is predicted during the first week.

Why can't you swim in the San Antonio Riverwalk? ›

The River Authority has an extensive water quality monitoring program that compiles and reports data on various pollutants throughout the basin. A high level of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the river indicates fecal contamination that poses hazards to human health when water is ingested.

Why is it illegal to swim in the San Antonio Riverwalk? ›

Felix's death, one of three drownings in the river in just three years in the 1970s, prompted the city to take action. San Antonio banned swimming in the river in 1976, ending a popular recreational activity enjoyed by generations of locals.

Are there any underground tunnels in San Antonio? ›

The San Antonio River flood diversion tunnel is approximately 16,200 feet long with precast concrete segmented liners of 24 feet by 4 inches inside diameter. The tunnel starts near Josephine Street where the tunnel inlet shaft is constructed adjacent to the existing channel (See Figure 2 for the tunnel's route).

What town in Texas runs out of water? ›

Amid the drought gripping South Texas, five of the eight groundwater wells in Concan have gone dry, leaving only two producing wells and one barely functioning well to supply the town. Residents can no longer water their lawns or fill their swimming pools, and from midnight to 6 a.m., the water is shut off.

What town in Texas is almost out of water? ›

A North Texas city is on the verge of running out of water as a historic drought grips the region. Gunter, Texas — a town of 2,500 north of Dallas — relies on three wells, two of which have been broken for a month.

What areas in Texas do not flood? ›

Neighborhoods Less Prone to Flooding
  • Briargrove. Located just right outside the 610 Loop, Briargrove offers a suburban community feel and a close proximity to the greater Houston Metropolitan area. ...
  • Houston Heights. ...
  • Rice Military. ...
  • East Downtown. ...
  • Afton Oaks.
Nov 10, 2021

What are the most flood prone areas in San Antonio Texas? ›

These are the Upper San Antonio River, the Medina River, Cibolo Creek, and Lower San Antonio River.

What is the name of the most famous flood? ›

Mississippi River flood of 1927, also called Great Flood of 1927, flooding of the lower Mississippi River valley in April 1927, one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

Where was the worst flood in the US? ›

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) inundated in depths of up to 30 feet (9 m) over the course of several months in early 1927.

Where should you sleep during a hurricane? ›

✓ Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level during the storm. Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can. ✓ Stay away from windows, skylights and glass doors.

Where is the safest place to sleep in a hurricane? ›

Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find a safe area in the home (an interior room, a closet or bathroom on the lower level). If flooding threatens a home, turn off electricity at the main breaker.

What type of house is best to survive a hurricane? ›

Concrete is probably the best material for a hurricane proof house or any high risk construction. Concrete is strong, durable, readily available, fire resistant, and will last a very long time. I would put concrete homes at the top of my list for the best construction types for hurricane proof houses.

Is San Antonio a good place to retire? ›

San Antonio is among the nation's best places to retire — and the best in Texas — according to a recent study that cites the city's relatively low taxes and high rate of satisfaction among residents age 45 and older.

What is San Antonio known for? ›

San Antonio is best known for the Alamo, a former Spanish mission church transformed into a shrine after American revolutionaries died defending it against Mexican troops.

What is the crime rate in San Antonio? ›

San Antonio's violent crime rate: is 735 per 100k people, compared to the violent crime rate in California: 447 per 100k people, and the US violent crime rate of 388 per 100k people. San Antonio saw an increase in overall crime in 2022, but the hardworking police officers hope the numbers will turn around in 2023.

Why are people moving to San Antonio? ›

San Antonio, Texas, is an exceptional place to live. Families and individuals from all over the nation choose to move to San Antonio for its thriving business community, world-class healthcare system, and multicultural reverence. San Antonio has the second largest population out of all cities in Texas.

Is San Antonio safe from hurricane? ›

Re: Hurricanes? Hurricanes can hit the gulf coast but San Antonio is well inland, 120 miles or so. Any hurricanes would only affect San Antonio in terms of rain but obviously no storm surge or heavy winds that far inland.

Does San Antonio get natural disasters? ›

The chance of earthquake damage in San Antonio is about the same as Texas average and is much lower than the national average. The risk of tornado damage in San Antonio is lower than Texas average and is higher than the national average.

When did San Antonio flood? ›

The Alamo City officially got 11.26″ of rain on Oct. 17, 1998. Lives were lost, homes were damaged, and South Texas communities were left with the devastating remains of a 500-year-flood. Here is KSAT's complete video documentary of the South Texas flood of 1998.

Which side of San Antonio is safer? ›

The safest and most secure neighborhoods in San Antonio are Alamo Heights, Tobin Hill, Cibolo, Shavano Park, Downtown San Antonio, Olmos Park, and New Braunfels.

Is San Antonio a safe place to retire? ›

San Antonio is among the nation's best places to retire — and the best in Texas — according to a recent study that cites the city's relatively low taxes and high rate of satisfaction among residents age 45 and older.

Is San Antonio in Tornado Alley? ›

Severe Weather: San Antonio's position in the central part of the state keeps it from harm's way of “Tornado Alley” that is part of northern Texas and Oklahoma. The distance of 140 miles from the Gulf Coast prevents tropical weather patterns from disturbing San Antonio's weather.

Can a tornado happen in San Antonio? ›

Tornadoes can happen any time of the year but in the Southern Plains, including San Antonio, they tend to touch down from May to early June.

Has a tornado ever hit San Antonio? ›

11 years ago today, a tornado almost destroyed an entire West Side neighborhood. Paul Hiers (left) and Roosevelt Burton (right) leave Hiers' garage after the roof was torn off amid a 2012 tornado swept through northwest San Antonio.

What was the worst flood in Texas? ›

The "Night of Horrors" September 8, 1900, begins as a 15-foot storm surge rolls across Galveston, Texas, killing over 8,000. Dawn breaks over a grisly scene of bodies in the streets. The Galveston flood is remembered even to this day as the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States.


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