Where does Tropical Storm Imelda rank in the record books?

People walk through water onHopper Roadon Sept. 19, 2019, in Houston.
People walk through water onHopper Roadon Sept. 19, 2019, in Houston.

HOUSTON – While it arrived in Texas without a lot of fanfare, given the history of some of the state's more famous flood events, Tropical Storm Imelda left a ferocious path of catastrophic flooding, cementing its place in the record books. 

With 43 inches of rain in Beaumont, most of that falling in less than 24 hours, Imelda smashed its way into 5th place on the list of the wettest tropical cyclones in US history.

Before Hurricane Harvey's record-setting 60 inches two years ago, the flooding benchmark for most residents of Southeast Texas was Allison's 39 inches in 2001.

Similar to Allison, Imelda came to form as a fairly typical tropical depression or low-end tropical storm which shouldn't create much in the way of problems for the greater Houston and Golden Triangle areas.

However, what usually cements storms into the rare air of the wettest ever is a combination of slow movement, some feature blocking the overall progress of the storm, and an unlimited supply of warm tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Allison tapped into that recipe and as Imelda slowly meandered up and into Houston, the same set up was taking place across the eastern half of SE Texas. 

With Imelda firmly in the top 5 all-time, it's hard not to notice that, aside from Hurricane Lane that lashed the Hawaiian Islands with 58 inches of rain last year, the state of Texas holds five of the first six slots of the wettest all time storms.

Just like our BBQ, we like to do it bigger in Texas. 

About the Author:

Meteorologist, craft beer guru, dad to Maya and Ella and a sock and cheese addict.