July 17, 1987 – Flooding Creates Havoc On The Guadalupe River

| July 17, 2017 @ 12:52 pm

During the overnight hours of July 16, 1987, and into the early morning hours of July 17th, South Central Texas was experiencing a train of showers and thunderstorms mainly through the Hill Country. Copious amounts of rainfall were triggered by weak cold front interacting with a mid level low and plenty of gulf moisture. Upwards of 5-10 inches of rain fell in the upper headwaters of the Guadalupe River Basin, with as much as 11.50 inches falling just west of Hunt, Texas.

All of this rain caused flooding along the Kerrville and Hunt Rivers, along with the Guadalupe River. Flooding was so bad, the Guadalupe overflowed its banks and waters stretched out up to two-thirds of a mile out from the river itself at the peak of the flooding.

More than 300 children were attending a church camp at the Pot ‘O Gold Ranch, which is located just southwest of where the worst of the flooding was occurring. The camp was ordered to be evacuated on the morning of the 17th, and around 7:45 AM, a caravan of vans and buses left the camp. They encountered flood waters just outside of the camp gate, so it was decided that they would turn away and find an alternate route to evacuate on.

Image Courtesy of NWS Austin/SanAntonio, TX

The flood waters were rising quickly at the gate, and every bus and van were able to make the sharp turn and escape, except for the last bus in line, and the trailing van. The rising water, combined with backwash from the convoy, caused the bus to stall, causing the van behind it to become stranded.

An attempt was made to rescue the stranded campers from the bus and van and was it going successfully. As they were wading back to dry ground, a wave of water nearly a half-mile wide crashed on the campers. 39 of the campers, along with 4 adults, were swept away in the rushing flood waters. They were holding on to tree branches and anything else they could grab to stay afloat. Several were rescued by helicopters from the Texas DPS, the US Army, and a local news station. 33 out of the 43 that were washed away were rescued. Unfortunately, 10 of the campers tragically drowned.

A memorial was erected at the ranch listing the names of those who perished in the flood waters from the Guadalupe River, and the names of those who survived. All of these were from the Seagoville Road Baptist Church in Balch Springs, Texas.

Category: ALL POSTS, Met 101/Weather History

About the Author ()

Scott Martin is a meteorologist, graphic artist, musician, husband, and a father. Scott is a member of the National Weather Association and the Central Alabama Chapter of the National Weather Association. Scott is also the co-founder of Racecast Weather, which provides accurate forecasts for many racing series across the USA.

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