July 20, 2024

Thunderstorms pounded the Dallas-Fort Worth area Sunday night and Monday, dumping massive amounts of rain in 18 hours, inundating streets, flooding homes, and forcing some drivers to abandon their vehicles in high water.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared the region a disaster based on preliminary damage assessments, allowing the area to respond with available state resources. Jenkins has also asked the government for help.

Gov. Greg Abbott also directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to increase the state’s emergency operations center’s readiness to assist flood-affected communities.

Rainfall in some areas qualifies as a 1-in-1,000-year flood, which means it has a 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year. As the effects of climate change worsen, such events may become more common in the coming decades. Climate scientists have discovered that rising temperatures increase the frequency of extreme precipitation events.

According to a Dallas Water Utilities reading, the east side of Dallas received 13 to 15 inches of rain in the last 24 hours. The majority of the Dallas-Fort Worth area received 6 to 10 inches of rain.

The flash floods, which are considered life-threatening in some cases, have prompted rescue efforts. Since 6 p.m. on Sunday, the Dallas Fire Department has responded to hundreds of car accidents and other water-related emergencies. Dallas emergency management officials report high water on many roadways and advise residents in the area not to travel.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for North Texas until 8 p.m. Monday, and a flood warning for Central Texas until 7 p.m. Flooding in North Texas is beginning to subside, and the heaviest rainfall is moving into Central Texas. Meteorologists predict an additional 2 to 5 inches of rain as the storm system moves.

Thunderstorms are expected to persist throughout the week. It’s a stark contrast to just a few days ago, when much of the state went weeks without rain. For months, much of the state has been in severe drought. WFAA reported that houses in Balch Springs, a Dallas suburb where a grass fire destroyed nine homes just a month ago, are absorbing water.

Climate scientists have discovered that rising average temperatures caused by climate change can have a significant impact on extreme precipitation events by increasing the intensity of rainfall during storms.

Since 1960, the intensity of rainfall in Texas has increased by about 7%. According to a 2021 report by the state’s climatologist, the risk of extreme precipitation events is increasing across the state, despite the fact that the Western half of the state has generally seen a flat or declining trend in precipitation totals over the past century.

According to the report, Texas could see 30% to 50% more extreme rain events by 2036 than it did from 1950 to 1999.