By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
It wasn’t a tropical weather system, but the radar animation still showed some eerie similarities to the kinds of summertime severe weather patterns that earn themselves innocuous sounding names. No, what much of the Rio Grande Valley woke up to on Wednesday morning was a deluge from a storm that bore no name, but whose effects were far from innocuous.
In the predawn dimness of my bedroom I listened in as a local meteorologist updated folks via Facebook live. A weather map glowed on my phone’s small screen, showing the staccato movements of a radar time lapse. The false-color blobs that represented rainfall glared in angry shades of yellow, orange, red and even lavender.
The storm sat, like an obstinate toddler, squarely over the four-county area and portions of northern Mexico. In the Upper Valley, the scarlet lines of rain moved ever so slowly from north to south. In the Lower Valley — Harlingen, La Fera and the like — those lines of rain crept up the map from south to north. The storm was spinning, slowly, like a tropical storm. But, there was no wind. No eye. Just rain.
I’d fallen asleep to gentle rumbles of thunder only a few hours before. Having not watched the local evening news before bed, I assumed the coming rainstorm would be as gentle as those soft peals of distant thunder. But, as I listened in on the impromptu forecast via social media several hours later, I learned just how bad the overnight storm had been.
In just seven hours, parts of the mid-Valley were inundated by 11 inches of rain. Frontage roads were lost beneath feet of water that reached the windows of even the tallest pickup trucks. Motorists were abandoning their vehicles and swimming to higher ground. First responders began conducting high water rescues as the relentless rainfall caused numerous homes to flood.
On the final day of spring, Mother Nature walloped us with one heck of a rainstorm. Or, most of us, anyway.
As light from the rising sun slowly began to filter through the thick blanket of clouds, rain looked eminent here along the coast. But, when I stepped outside it was to a few gentle sprinkles and a cool breeze. Parts of Laguna Vista and South Padre Island did eventually get heavy rainfall for a brief moment later on in the morning. Port Isabel, though, emerged largely unscathed.
Flash flood alerts continued to sound throughout the day Wednesday, and more rain was expected until the end of the week, though forecasters were hopeful it wouldn’t be nearly as bad.
The summer solstice was Thursday, June 21. The longest day of the year and the start of a new season. Hopefully, the weather will turn a new page, as well.
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