Remembering Tropical Storm Allison, looking ahead to a hot weekend

Do you know where you were 20 years ago this morning? I was slowly walking north along T C Jester Boulevard, waist deep in water from an overflowing White Oak Bayou. Tropical Storm Allison had returned the night before, deluging the city, particularly central regions near the Texas Medical Center, and east Houston. I had been caught unawares, with some friends at a Bob Schneider concert on Washington Avenue. The rains were so loud we heard them pounding on the roof, over the rock and roll music. After leaving the concert early I’d been unable to get home, across the raging river that was Interstate 10. So I parked my car on a high median and tromped around Montrose all night. The next morning as the waters receded a bit, I retrieved my vehicle and drove to Interstate 610 North. But again, I had to park my car outside my neighborhood as Oak Forest was flooded. So I slogged up T C Jester toward my street, looking at flooded homes, marveling but dismayed at what had happened. It all seemed otherworldly. This was my introduction to flooding in Houston, and I vowed to never be surprised by such an event again. I began writing about weather more for the Houston Chronicle, and eventually became a meteorologist. The rest is history—but I will never forget Allison and I suspect, if you live in Houston, neither will you.

12-hour rainfall totals for the night of June 8 to morning of June 9, 2001. (NOAA)

Wednesday

We need not worry ourselves about flooding this week. A few very light showers will be possible this morning, but anything that forms will be scattered and fleeting. Winds will be light, out of the south. Some sunshine will break through the clouds this afternoon as temperatures rise into the low 90s. Tonight will be warm and muggy. Those dewpoints in the upper 70s are why your glasses are fogging up, or why even a short walk through the parking garage is pretty miserable.

Thursday and Friday

Both of these days will be warm, with highs in the low- to mid-90s. Thursday will be partly if not mostly cloudy, but Friday should be mostly sunny.

High temperatures could be solidly in the mid-90s by Sunday. (Weather Bell)

Saturday and Sunday

The weekend should see more sunny skies and highs in the mid-90s. It’s gonna be warm, y’all, so take care outside during the warmest part of the day. Some very slight rain chances return Sunday afternoon and evening as the high pressure system retreats, but for now I’m anticipating that we’re all going to stay dry.

Next week

The start of next week looks to be partly sunny, with at least some slight to moderate rain chances. The bigger question is what happens after that due to unsettled weather. A dying front may bring some rain chances southward, or we may see the influence of tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. More on that below.

Tropics

The main global models are continuing to suggest that a low pressure system may form in the southern Gulf of Mexico next week, perhaps in the Tuesday to Thursday time frame. There is now modest agreement that something tropical is going to happen. The European model’s ensemble system, for example, says there is at least a 25 percent chance of a tropical storm forming in the western Gulf of Mexico during the second half of next week.

European model forecast for “probability of a tropical storm” developing from June 16-June 19. (Weather Bell)

As for what develops after this, or whether the system tracks into Mexico, Texas, or further eastward into the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, it’s really difficult to say anything. Most, but not all, of the model guidance keeps this system at tropical storm strength or below. For now, this is something to keep an eye on because forecast models are going to be all over the place. When we can say more, we will.

24 thoughts on “Remembering Tropical Storm Allison, looking ahead to a hot weekend”

  1. Wait, so Turner made your official day the 20th anniversary of Allison rolling in? Ha! Forgot it was so early in the season!

  2. Dang! Oak Forest? It has always had flooded streets from White Oak. I grew up there and remember the floods very well. Many many times I had to pull my car up on higher ground and wait for those flood waters to recede. There were a few times I would walk home and then come back later to retrieve my car. As for Allison, I had already moved away, and luckily my area did not flood, but we were expecting it to. One of the near misses I had in my current home. Alas, Harvey got us in 2017, though.

  3. I got away with only 5″ from Allison and another inch or two when it first passed by.

    The plant I worked in at the time wound up with over 30″, flooded, and was down for 6 weeks to rebuild the obsolete control rooms (parts were only available in India and the Czech Republic). The plant manager was fired as a result of all this.

    Spent the summer putting up sheetrock in several homes around town. The mold in one along the Hardy was so bad I threw up 30 seconds after going inside. People were living in it.

  4. I do remember Allison very clear. We live in the Heights and a friend lived in the heights back then. He had the same experience as you, went to a party that night, and could not get back to the Heights, so he did exactly the same thing, he and his friends went to Montrose to keep partying.

  5. I remember the morning of TS Allison really well—was living at Wolf Creek apartments on Space Center & Bay Area Blvd, and I got up to drive into work like normal. It was rainy, but the streets were fine, and it seemed like a normal morning. I didn’t listen to the news or turn on the radio in the car, so my first indication anything major was happening was when I saw a bunch of cars driving the wrong way back down the connecting road from El Dorado to the northbound feeder—the feeder was flooded and you couldn’t get on I-45.

    That was enough to get me to turn on the radio, and that was enough to get me to turn around and go home. Spent the rest of the day playing video games.

  6. After cancelling our plans to go to Shakespeare in the park, I drove home west on I-10 and got stuck at the TC Jester railroad underpass. After noticing the water started to rise, we were able to exit the freeway at the on-ramp, but the frontage and side roads were already flooding as well. We were diverted to the Marquee theaters on I-10, Dave and Busters stayed open all night and we got treated to free movies at around 5am. When we were finally able to drive out, it felt like a post-apocalyptic town, with semis floating in the river where I-10 once was, and abandoned cars in the middle of the streets everywhere else. Also my introduction to flooding in Houston.

  7. Last two mornings, morning low of 82. What are July and August going to be like.

    It’s a good thing that mess next week in the Gulf will “only be a tropical storm.” / sarc

  8. TS Allison was one crazy storm. When it first started raining on me hard I was at Post Oak and San Felipe…I braved it home (Shepherd and Westheimer) and the streets were so flooded, I parked in the Randall’s parking lot and slogged the rest of the way to my house. I was able to draft my little Ford Ranger in behind Suburbans. The real danger was dodging plastic trash cans that had floated into the street. I was supposed to be at a conference at S Padre and had to keep calling Southwest and the hotel to push back my trip “one more day”. SW finally got my boss and me out on Sunday and Hobby was filled to the brim with folks who had just had to keep sleeping at the airport before planes started flying again. Prior to Harvey, that was the storm all others were measured by.

  9. If memory serves correct, I left work early in north Houston at 4:30 P.M. traveling to Hearne for supper, to Calvert to spend a night at a hotel and hopefully to Bremond to participate in a fun run. On Friday, late afternoon, there probably was the almost usual heavy traffic on 290. On the way to Hearne, there may have been a couple of light soakers, but mostly drizzle on 290 and then Hwy. 6 North.

    The next morning I woke up about 6 A.M. to watch the Weather Channel and see how the weather was in the Bremond area. Of course, the Weather Channel mentioned the catastrophic floods in Houston. I called my Mother and she highly recommended staying away from Houston for a few hours.

    I drove to Bremond and except for very light drizzles, the fun run was still on. After the fun run, I hung out at the Polish festival for an hour, left Bredmond, left Calvert and spent several hours in a dry College Station.

    I left College Station after 3 P.M. I traveled to my Mother’s home down Highway 6, 290, North Loop 610, south on 59’and south on the Gulf Freeway. After visiting my Mother a couple of hours, I arrived at my home about 7 P.M. in the Golfcrest Neighborhood without any problems.

  10. The Fabulous Satellite Lounge! I miss that place! I was probably dancing to Bob Schneider next to you. Until my sister dragged me off the dance floor yelling “we have to go NOW!” My posse proceeded to park our car on a high esplanade and wade across the Taylor Street bridge over I-10 in thigh high water.

  11. Moved from Houston the summer before. When we sold our house in Knollwood Village we pointed out the the mark we’d been told was the water line from Alicia. Had the opportunity to talk with the folks we sold to a few days after Allison. They said water came to that mark and stayed there for 18 hours.

    Started working back in Houston in 2004 and started following Eric on the Chronicle. Moved back in 2006. House we sold in 2000 & current house both got scares with Ike and the Memorial Day floods. Both flooded in Harvey 🙁

    I’m loving the new app, but noticed that I have to come here for comments.

  12. Love your reports. So glad you were recognized
    Thank you👏👏👏👏 ☔️🌞🌤

  13. I worked for Whole Earth Provision Co on Shepherd at the time, and we had a foot of water in the store, and lost a third of the merchandise. The employees put that store back together. I lost ten pounds in a month, and sweated white salt through my clothing every day. I have nightmares about it still. NO TROPICAL STORM ALLISON. I LOATHE flooding because of that experience (and my Ike experience) and hate hearing anything about flooding because of this too. But I’m glad to have y’all with no hype at any rate.

    I actually was in San Antonio for the Texas Folk Life Festival that weekend, and managed to drive back in the day after Allison. Ugh.

  14. I remember that I got home from school when it started raining and it just kept pouring by the early evening. Decided that I didn’t want to go out that night and it was fortuitous when I saw the news reports the next morning.

    Who knew that this would be the start of a 20-year cycle of bigger and bigger floods?

  15. We’d just moved into our house north of 610 two weeks prior and didn’t have flood insurance because we weren’t in the 500-year floodplain (LOL). Some friends were over watching a basketball game until the power went out around 10 PM, so we dragged a cooler of beer out to the porch and watched the water rise as it rained harder than I’ve ever seen (before or since) for five straight hours. Finally tapered off around 4 AM and never got further than halfway up the lawn.

    We’re still in that house, only now we have flood insurance.

  16. Sounds like Allison made you. Then we had Katrina and Rita a few years later and you were ready. Then Space City Weather carried us through Harvey.

    As for me, I was living on Richmond and Montrose in 2001. It rained all night but I was on the second story so I didn’t really worry about flooding. The weirdest thing in the morning, besides the cars parked on the median on Richmond, was the lack of any airplane noise. That of course would happen again in a few months with 9/11. Then we walked to the bridges over 59 and saw the rivers, then later that day the river on I-10 and Shepherd. Totally unreal, surreal, and yet a sense of community sprang up briefly. Everybody knew there were dead in the cars in the rivers. Yet the guy kayaking down the interstate was the most iconic thing of it all.

  17. I remember Allison well. I also lived in Oak Forest at the time, fortunately the house didn’t flood, but I remember walking along the bayou on T C Jester and seeing the bayou filled too the top, with all kinds of things running down stream. Of course, now the memories kind of blended with the memories of Ike, Harvey, and a few others.

  18. I was working at a hospital in the medical center night shift (one of the few that the backup generators were not underground). I remember watching cars and metro buses floating down Fannin from the sky bridge. Taking turns sleeping until the day shift could make it in, finally leaving Sun morning. Driving out was so eerie with steam coming up from the manholes. The next shift I worked a couple days later the Red Cross was set up all over and all kinds of equipment drying out the hospital right next door. Too many lives lost. Thankfully they all have flood doors now.

  19. Congrats on your SCW day! Let’s make it an annual celebration!

    My Allison memory: I was living in Camden Greenway apartments, facing Eastside, on the 3rd floor. The rain was intense, for hours. I had Channel 2 on TV and remember the weatherman sounding overwhelmed. There was white on the radar and he kept saying that this shouldn’t last, that kind of intensity rains itself out. And yet it kept raining. I went out on the balcony and could barely breathe because there was so much water in the air. At 1:30AM there was 4 1/2 feet of water in the street below, and a guy on a JetSki went by. By 10AM the next morning, all that water had drained away. Amazing experience.

  20. We were taking down and packing a closed international exhibit that night. The usually calm head exhibits guy was worried and told us to stop NOW and get home. The foreign museum professionals were lovely and a pleasure to work with but their government minder was a piece of work. Next day she called from (what was then) the Warwick in a snit fit demanding her official city tour. We were like, Lady! Look out your window! Nobody’s going anywhere!

    I lived close enough to the Woodhead 59 overpass to walk there and stand in slack jaw amazement.

    My other strong memory is that the Fiesta grocery store on Dunlavy somehow managed to open. The lights were dim and everyone stood patiently, worn out, exhausted, silent but grateful, in long check-out lines. Guess the shock was still setting in. I still miss that store.

  21. Found out that night that my house is the highest on my street in my Clear Lake subdivision. At the low point on my street (where the backed-up sewers are), water was waist deep and the water was within an inch or two of coming into the houses there; at my house it was only halfway up the driveway and I had probably a good couple of vertical feet to go before I was in danger. Fortunately didn’t flood during Harvey, or any of the other flooding events since Allison.

  22. I had just closed on the house I’m living in now. The morning after the rains subsided, I drove to me “new” house and noticed a few homes in the subdivision were flooded down toward Cypress Creek, but the street my new house was on, and the surrounding streets, were high and dry, which made me feel quite good about the purchase. Subsequent floods have come closer to the house–Harvey came the closest–but it has not flooded, except for back yard drainage issues during torrential deluges that want to seep into the house because that’s the shortest way for water to get down to the street.

  23. I was in law school at night, and flooded my car driving home in the heavy rain a day or two before Allison. I was also unexpectedly pregnant and nervous about telling my husband. I miscarried soon after, but there’s a happy ending: my car was fixable, I graduated law school with honors, and I now have two awesome teenagers.

    Since Allison I have always been frightened of driving in heavy rain, though; it’s my only phobia.

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