Texas Hill Country News

What If Harvey Hit San Antonio?

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What would have happened had Harvey’s most severe rains hit San Antonio rather than Houston? In a recent report from Houston station KHOU, that question gets addressed. With both good and bad results. The likelihood that you’d see a storm like Harvey hit San Antonio remains low, but exercises with the what-if scenario help emergency planners to ready themselves for the worst.

Parameters of the Study

Hurricane Harvey's and destruction helped researchers predict what would happen if Harvey hit San Antonio

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The study looked at what would happen if Harvey’s rainfall centered at the worst-possible place in San Antonio, near the Olmos Dam on Olmos Creek. Rainfall of 51 inches over just five days, the scenario would precisely mirror the devastation of Harvey on the greater Houston area but concentrated over San Antonio. These parameters helped engineers to make a prediction about what exactly would happen if Harvey hit San Antonio.

Results of What If Harvey Hit San Antonio

Engineers looked at how the same flooding that hit Houston from Harvey would affect San Antonio. This is near downtown Houston during the flooding.

Photo: Facebook/KHOU 11 News

If Harvey hit San Antonio, the results would have been hard for the city, but not nearly as bad as in Houston. The rolling hills of San Antonio would allow for the water to drain off much faster than in the coastal plain of Houston. Luckily, quickly receding water levels would mean people would not necessarily be trapped inside their homes for days on end. The downside of the flooding in San Antonio would be its effect on Highway 281. This route would remain under water for 12 days, which could snarl traffic after people returned to work. A similar situation happened in Houston when the West Belt remained underwater long after the flood waters receded in most of the city.

Implications of the Study

Would floodwaters rise as quickly had Harvey hit San Antonio?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This study will help emergency planners to know what to expect of an exceptional flooding situation. It could help responders know which roads to shut down and which areas will need the most assistance and when. Harvey broke all the expectations responders and meteorologists had, and another storm could once again push the envelope. But, doing studies of storms like Harvey can still help the city to stay safer in the event of another major event the size of Harvey.