Heavy rains from out of nowhere flood Valley

A number of stalled cars are on the frontage road of Expressway 77 northbound near Wilson Road. Other motorists are stranded on the highway because each of the off ramps is underwater. By Ernie Garrido, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — The soggy ghost of June past made a very unwelcome re-appearance.

Nearly one year to the day after record-setting rains hit the Rio Grande Valley, dropping 16.85 inches on the City of Harlingen over four days, heavy thunderstorms belted the region again, with some areas receiving six to 12 inches of rain in just a few hours.

Hardest-hit was western Willacy County, western Cameron County and the eastern part of Hidalgo County.

Unlike the four-day Great June Flood of last year, this time around there was little respite as the rains came lashing down without the three- to four-hour breaks that occurred last year. City officials said the intermittent rainfall allowed drainage and flood-control systems to do their jobs and prevented a more dangerous flooding event.

Yesterday night, the luck ran out.

The first indication most had of the severity of the storms coming from the north was around rush hour. At 5 p.m., the National Weather Service in Brownsville issued a tornado warning for northern Willacy County, along with a severe thunderstorm warning.

About two hours later, the thunderstorms and heavy rain had moved south to more populated spots, and there the system sat, with lightning, strong winds and heavy rain lashing the area until nearly midnight. At that point, the heaviest rain was past, replaced by lighter yet persistent precipitation that continued for several hours.

Roadways were still awash this morning, many strewn with stalled and abandoned vehicles which failed to navigate floodwaters between two and even three feet deep the night before.

At the height of the storm, dozens of roadways near Harlingen and to the west into Hidalgo County were closed due to flash floods, including U.S. Business 83 west of Harlingen. At 8 a.m. this morning, vehicles on the heavily used roadway were making U-turns in both directions to avoid a pool of deep water still standing near Lewis Lane.

Nearby on the I-2/U.S. Expressway 83 frontage road in front of Charlie Clark Nissan, three feet of water covering the road made that route impassable.

Summer activities at area schools were canceled today in Harlingen, Mercedes, La Feria, Raymondville and Lyford.