Talking to someone who has been to Lubbock during a rainy season, it is not uncommon to hear about the flooding and crazy winds that make it impossible to stay dry.
It takes little water to start a flood in Lubbock, Charles Aldrich, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Lubbock, said. Flooding is defined as a lot of rain in a short amount of time.
“Lubbock being such an urban area, it doesn’t take a whole lot of rainfall to create flooding issues,” he said.
Flash flooding, Aldrich said, is considered an emergency.
“For Lubbock generally, anything that’s about three inches of rainfall in an hour or more is what we consider heavy rainfall for the city,” he said. “You can have flooding in Lubbock from one inch of rainfall an hour, it just depends.”
Lubbock’s drainage system consists of the streets and intersections, which were designed to carry water to one of the many playa lakes around Lubbock, he said.
“That’s why when you come to an intersection, and it dips down real good before it comes back up when you’re going through, that’s the drainage right there,” Aldrich said.
There are many playa lakes around Lubbock, he said, but some have development built on top of them which can create even more of a flooding issue.
“On average there’s about one playa lake per square mile across the South Plains,” he said. “You have some development that was built on these playa lakes, and they’re more prone to flooding then other areas.”
To further complicate things, Aldrich said the clay loam of West Texas does not quickly soak up water and leaves the water on the top layer of soil for a longer amount of time then a softer soil would.
“When that top layer dries out, it becomes real hard,” he said. “When it becomes real hard and you get a lot of water at once, it can’t really soak up any of that water, and so it just runs off. It’s almost like concrete I guess.”
Aldrich warned Lubbock residents that trying to drive through water, especially moving water, might cause smaller vehicles to stall or intake water, resulting in expensive damage.
“The motto we have at the weather service is ‘turn around, don’t drown,’” he said. “If the water is moving you definitely don’t want to cross. All it takes is one foot of water to move a car.”
Emma Doggett, a freshman marketing major from The Woodlands, said she avoids rain at all costs and stays in her dorm watching Netflix instead.
“If I need to go to class or something I’ll just throw on my rainboots and my rain parka and just kind of tough it out,” she said. “But if I need to drive somewhere I’ll just wait, because if it’s raining, the streets flood really bad, and there have been times when I’m driving on campus after its rained and I can’t even get the car through the water because it’s so deep.”
Rain boots are essential and saved her many times last fall semester, she said.
“I’ve ruined a ton of shoes like stepping in puddles because I didn’t have my rain boots,” she said. “I’ve had many people tell me before I came to Lubbock, ‘Get you some rain boots and a rain coat,’ because it rains and it floods.”
When the water starts to rise it scares her, she said, especially because she remembers how bad Hurricane Harvey was, and she immediately thinks about precautions she can take against the flooding.
Jordan Springall, a freshman education major from Georgetown, said she tries to stay inside be-cause the water is difficult to avoid on campus.
“When I have to go out I really dread it,” she said. “I forgot my rain boots one time, and that was the worst mistake. I’ve ruined many pairs of shoes, because its muddy everywhere.”
Because of the wind that comes with rain, there is little true protection against getting soaked, Springall said.
“I just put a rain jacket on and put my hood on and walk as fast as I can,” she said. “Which again when it’s windy, it just blows in your face.”