10 years ago today, San Antonio’s Highway 281 was submerged by record flooding

SAN ANTONIO – There’s something about Memorial Day weekend in Texas. Every few years, it seems the holiday brings wild weather and more often than not, flooding. In 2015, the Blanco River experienced catastrophic flooding over Memorial Day weekend. Two years before that, in 2013, San Antonio experienced a flood that still holds several records.

I was working weekend mornings at the time and I remember planning for storms but was blown away by the rainfall rates and the lack of movement of the storms that developed. There was one storm in particular that set right over the Olmos Basin. The storm dumped incredible amounts of rainfall in a short amount of time during the early morning hours on May 25. A gauge along Olmos Creek collected 6.13″ in one hour, 9.46″ in 2 hours, 15.31 in 5 hours, and would end the day collecting 17″ of rain! It doesn’t matter where you live, that kind of rain will result in a flood. Unfortunately for us, it fell over a flood-prone area (Olmos Basin) and the water had nowhere to go. Water rises along the San Antonio River did significant damage downstream, specifically along the Mission Reach.

Homes along Espada Rd. were hardest hit by the flood (Copyright 2023 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

Amazingly, this rain came on the heels of a 2-inch rainfall just a day prior. San Antonio International recorded 9.87 inches of rain, the second-highest 24-hour total on record!

Sadly, two fatalities occurred when water swept away two vehicles, one in Leon Creek and another along Rhapsody Drive. More than 350 residences were impacted, with 15 homes destroyed. Numerous other sustained damage.

KSAT remained on the air with continuous flood coverage with some dramatic scenes unfolding on live television. That included one family who moved to their roof and waved to helicopters, as flood waters rose. We also noticed a VIA bus that became submerged. Thankfully, everyone on board escaped without injury.

A VIA bus became submerged in flood water. (Copyright 2023 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

It was estimated that this was a 250-year flood. Highway 281 remained underwater for several days, while floodwaters slowly drained.

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