Tropical Storm Alberto slams Texas coast with surge and heavy rains

Thursday, June 20, 2024
Tropical Storm Alberto slams Texas coast with surge and heavy rains
Tropical Storm Alberto has left many Texans underwater along the Gulf Coast and brought storm-force wind gusts with a two- to four-foot surge.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Wednesday morning, Tropical Storm Alberto officially became the first named storm of the season.

But 24 hours earlier, this tropical storm was already impacting the Texas coast, sending high waves and tidal flooding to southeast Texas communities along the coast.

On Tuesday afternoon, communities along Galveston Island started to feel tropical storm-force wind gusts. Many locals noted, too, that they hadn't seen waves like that in years. At times, offshore waves rose as high as 15 feet.

The incoming surge also led to high tides, flooding some neighborhoods near the Offatts Bayou even before the heavy rain started to fall.

On Tuesday night, both the surge and heavy rain arrived. The storm surge along the island ranged between two to three feet with this storm.

Once the tropical downpours came, floodwaters couldn't recede. This sent about a foot of water into the first floor of Bo Montellano's home in Surfside Beach.

Nearby, Robert Tinoco watched as his friend Robin's car was swept away. The two men had been trying to drive their vehicles over a flooded Surfside roadway to higher ground. The floodwater was not high but fast-moving, carrying Robin's vehicle off the road into deeper water.

"Do not underestimate the power of the water going across the road, even though you think it's real shallow. That vehicle probably weighs 3,400 to 3,500 pounds, and it picked it up like it was nothing," Tinoco said.

ABC13 has been in areas that were hit with flooding from Tropical Storm Alberto.

Robin was able to climb out of his car to safety. However, Tinoco understands he is lucky.

"Take the warnings serious," he said. "Don't try it, it's not worth it. You can replace things; you can't replace people."

Tinoco said he decided to leave his car behind after watching Robins's experience. It stalled out after water rose to the floorboards.

It was a similar scene in Matagorda Bay. Overnight, the area experienced a storm surge of just under three feet, water filling many coastal streets, made worse by heavy rains Wednesday afternoon.

Alberto has left many communities up and down the Texas coast underwater. Farther south, the waves and wind really began to pick up Wednesday morning in Corpus Christi.

The storm surge and heavy rains prompted flash flood warnings to be issued Wednesday afternoon.

What's unique about this tropical system is how large the windfield is. It expands over 400 miles from the center of the storm, helping to pull in water from across the Gulf. That's not normal.

Typically, if this were a "normal" tropical storm in the same location, off the northeastern coast of Mexico, the wind field wouldn't be so large.

Thus, southeast Texas wouldn't see the impacts of storm surge or tropical storm force winds.