A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 05, 2006
Flash Flood Alley

Central Texas (Austin to San Antonio) has been called “Flash Flood Alley.” A 2004 documentary by that title has been made to publicize the flood threats.


Flood Safety
Ten Texas Flood Factoids
1. Central Texas has been identified as the most flash-flood prone area in the United States by the National Weather Service.
2. Texas holds 6 of 12 world record rainfall rates in 24 hours or less - source United States Geological Survey (USGS).
3. Texas leads the nation in flood-related deaths most every year—averaging twice the next nearest state: California.
4. Texas leads the nation in flood-related damages most every year - sharing this distinction with Florida and Louisiana.
5. Some 20 million of Texas’ 171 million acres are flood-prone - more than in any other state. (Source: 2001 Blue Ribbon Committee Study—Texas Senate Concurrent Resolution 68)
6. Texas has approximately 8 million structures in floodplains. 3 million of these have no flood insurance. (Source: Blue Ribbon Study)
7. Texas is among the top four states with repeat flood losses to the same properties. (Source: Blue Ribbon Study)
8. From 1986 to 2000, Texas experienced 4,722 flash flood events. (Source: Blue Ribbon Study)
9. Texas has 1.5 full-time employees to administer the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1000 communities (Source: Blue Ribbon Study)
10. “Texas has the fewest numbers of state employees devoted to disaster
preparedness of any of the most populous states,” Tom Millwee, past head of Texas Department of Public Safety and Chair of Blue Ribbon Committee

News 8 Austin<.a>
Storm Ready: Sports and outdoors
3/10/2005 10:10 AM
By: Ernie Pacheco and Randy Ahrens

We live in a very beautiful area with the Hill Country just to our west and lots of creeks and tributaries crisscrossing Central Texas.

But these two factors partner with our geography to earn Central Texas the nickname of “Flash Flood Alley.”

News 8 Austin
Texas Floods: Why Central Texas floods
5/23/2006 8:33 AM
By: Rachel Elsberry

Mother Nature’s deadly and destructive mix of geology, geography and topography combine to lead to so much flash flooding in Central Texas.

Larry Eblen is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

There are two chapters in the story of Texas weather, he said.

“Flood or drought; and there doesn’t seem to be much in between,” Eblen said.
(...)
It’s no wonder why this area gets the name Flash Flood Alley.

Disaster Ready Austin (OEM)
Flooding is the most serious hazard for the Austin area and is a threat across the entire city year-round. A common myth is that flooding only occurs in creek or river floodplains. Many do not realize that flooding can occur anywhere in Austin.

To prepare for a flood event visit before a flood. Below are explanations of why and how Austin floods:

Unique Geographic and Atmospheric Conditions
The combination of these factors cause the large, violent storms here in “Flash Flood Alley”:
. Big sources of moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean;
. The jet stream that crosses the state from the Rocky Mountains;
. Closeness to the unstable West Texas “dry line” separating the dry desert air from the moist Gulf air;
. An uplift created along the Balcones Escarpment that runs across Central Texas;
. Storms northwest of us on the Edwards Plateau send flood waters downstream into Austin area creeks and rivers.
. Limestone and thin soils do not absorb much rain water.
. Violent weather creates cell storms that release heavy rains in any size area from a small neighborhood to a whole region. When a cell storm pours, it causes instant “flash flooding”, making it almost impossible to predict in advance where flooding will occur.

Creeks
Urban and rural creeks run through all areas of Austin creating the beautiful greenbelt and parks system. Unfortunately, this means we live in and near their floodplains. A floodplain is the land area these bodies of water will spill over into when it rains heavily. We can’t control a floodplain-- nature wins eventually.

Colorado River
The Colorado River bisects the city, and a series of dams provides us with the Highland Lakes and Town Lake for recreation, drinking water and power. As with creeks, many people have built in the floodplain of the river. The dams along the river do not prevent flooding, but can help reduce the intensity of the flow of floodwaters. The Colorado River crosses the entire state of Texas, so flooding in any area of the river’s watershed may affect Austin as well as many communities upstream and downstream of us. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) regulates the dams in the Austin area.

Urban Flooding
Developed areas cannot absorb as much rainfall as a natural area. Water runoff in urban areas is faster and there is much more of it, creating very dangerous conditions for people, especially drivers. Also, drainage systems can be overwhelmed, causing flooding in areas outside of floodplains.

Hurricanes & Tropical Storms
Even deep in the heart of Texas, we are vulnerable to the effects of a dying hurricane or tropical storm traveling inland. Remember the devastation Tropical Storm Allison left in Houston in 2001? That could have easily happened in Austin! Emergency resources could be impacted if families from the coast evacuated to Austin and then the storm hit Austin.

Google Groups: alt.pet.rabbits
From:  Anita
Date:  Tues, Nov 23 2004 2:46 pm

Aye, Daryl.  We went through 3 of the hurricanes this year, then came to Texas.  I didn’t know this was called “Flash Flood Alley.” We have had floods half the time I’ve been here.

23 May 2004, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, “Documentary Chronicles Survivors of ‘Flash Flood Alley’” by Dick Stanley, Metro/State, pg. B1:
Among the startling details of “Texas Flood,” a new documentary chronicling the state’s annual flash floods, is that four of the five people whose survival is depicted rebuild in the flood plain after the waters recede, still lured by the fatal beauty of life on the banks of the sometimes angry Guadalupe River.

“It’s a movie about temptation as much as anything else,” documentary producer Marshall Frech of Austin said. “The water’s edge draws people.”

You can see for yourself today in free showings of the one-hour movie, which intentionally borrows the title of a Stevie Ray Vaughan album, at 3 and 6 p.m. at the State Theater, 719 Congress Ave.

The film’s music, the brooding strains of Ry Cooder’s slide guitar, carries you along with the wrecked houses rushing downstream, then prepares you, along with the survivors, to gamble all over again.

Actually, not all of the four people who rebuilt along the Guadalupe in New Braunfels after the October 1998 flood stayed for what turned out to be the next flood four years later.

One of them, middle school teacher Susan Curtis, sold her home after a big 1999 rainstorm pattered on her newly shingled roof.

“It just spooked me really bad,” Curtis said. “I just couldn’t live down there anymore. We moved to one of the highest bluffs in New Braunfels.”

Good thing, too. In July 2002, Curtis’ rebuilt house was hit again, harder this time, and later it was bulldozed.

Frech is the co-author of “Barton Springs Eternal,” a 1993 book about Austin’s fabled swimming hole, and the producer of http://www.floodsafety.com, an educational Web site that uses dramatic videos, photographs and tales of survival in some of Austin’s most brutal floods to explain why meteorologists call the corridor from San Antonio to Austin “flash flood alley”—the place in North America most prone to flash flooding.

The Web site, financed by the City of Austin with help from agencies such as the Lower Colorado River Authority, lets users check out the annual peak stream flows of the creeks and rivers nearest their homes, as compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The $70,000 documentary also was financed by the City of Austin and the Geological Survey, as well as the City of Dallas, the San Antonio River Authority, the Harris County Flood Control District and the Hershey Foundation.

19 June 2005, Austin (TX) American-Statesman, Show World, pg. 3:
“Flash Flood Alley” at 7 p.m. Tuesday follows the lives of five Texans who rebuild after the great Central Texas flood of 1998.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 05, 2006 • Permalink