RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Record flooding inundated communities along the Rio Grande a decade ago this month as torrential rains from Hurricane Alex swept over the rivers banks causing more than a billion and a half dollars in damages throughout northern Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley.
Alex crashed ashore just south of the Valley at Soto la Marina on June 30th 2010, and while wind gusts exceeding 110 mph were damaging it was the incredible rainfall, perhaps as much as 50 inches in Coahuila, that devastated the region.
The majority of the water that feeds the Rio Grande comes from tributaries in Mexico, and as the torrent rushed from the Sierra Madres to the river Falcon Dam was forced to deal with record flooding.
Since its completion in 1953, Falcon Dam had never experienced such a volume, and by mid July 2010 was releasing water a record rate of 1700 cubic meters per second.
The view from the top of the dam was spectacular as an unprecedented volume of water raced over the spillway…an historic event that may never be seen again.
While flooding along the Rio Grande was extensive, the controlled releases prevented the damage from being even greater.
Eventually all the floodwater draining into the Rio Grande flows into the Lower Laguna Madre and Gulf of Mexico.
The Lower Laguna Madre received the brunt of the floodwater thru the Arroyo Colorado and floodway system, and the International Boundary and Water Commission estimated that more than 39.4 billion gallons or in excess of 145,000 acre feet entered the bay.
This rendered the normally hyper saline, saltier than the sea, Laguna Madre to become practically salt free across great swaths of the bay.
The bay, wildlife and river communities eventually rebounded, but the historic flood a decade ago will never be forgotten.