The Great San Marcos Flood of 1998

In October of 1998 I was living in a house outside of San Marcos.  We got 30 inches of rain in 24 hours in Hays county where San Marcos is.  I woke up that morning and my roommate had a police scanner.  We knew something was going on as there were a lot of calls for stranded motorists, etc.  This was really only the beginning.  Only about 10 inches of rain had fallen by that time.  We lived close to a creek and I went to check it out.  It was swollen and I thought I should probably get out of that house.  I came to find later that the house was in a flood plain.  That would've been nice to know beforehand.  Anyway, I took off with  my dog and went into town.  The San Marcos river was enormous.  It was impressive and had spawned off these other little rivers that aren't there usually.  I started drinking early.  I figured I might as well have fun.  I got too drunk though.  A lot of people had the same idea as me and the bars were packed.  One of my regular bars let me come in with my dog given the circumstances.  I got totally wasted and went to a party later which I don't remember.  At about 1 am the rain stopped and I went walking across town to see if my house flooded.  I had to cross some dangerous spots on foot, 4 feet deep flood waters, and was being an idiot.  It is amazing my dog and I didn't get swept away.  I was intent on seeing the house though and surely enough about 4 feet of water had come in.  The coffee table was picked up perfectly and set back down somewhere else, everything on top of it dry and intact.  The refrigerator was sitting in the front doorway, the water tried to push it into the front yard.  It was a trip.  Here's a little documentation from the flood...

Deaths and Damage:   Thirty-two lives were lost and property damage was estimated to be approximately one billion dollars.

Max. Precipitation:   30.00 in. (Hays Co.) 22.00 in. (Comal Co.)

Severity:   Catastrophic

Storm Center(s):   Hays Co., San Marcos Comal Co.

References:   Slade and Persky, 1999

The storms produced large volumes of runoff and as many as four flood peaks at each of many streamflow-gaging stations in the Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe River Basins. Record flood stages occurred at sites on the Medina River, San Antonio River, Sabinal River, and Nueces River. For the first time since it filled in 1968, Canyon Lake (northeast of San Antonio) poured over its spillway, adding to the flooding in the Guadalupe River. Emergency managers also were concerned about the 90-year-old dam at Medina Lake (west of San Antonio). Medina Lake topped its spillway and rose to within 18 inches of the top of the dam. Areas downstream from the dam were evacuated as a precaution to the fear of dam failure.

ReformedAutomaton ReformedAutomaton
41-45, M
8 Responses Jun 19, 2007

The first worst flood was in 1971 in San Marcos compare too the floods I have seen 1972, 1997.1998 and others baby flood..that's why all the house around maquee,mariposa, Lucio, grove,LBJ St were consider flood plain..urban renewal came and bought all the Hispanic community out of the bad flood plains and Rio vista area.. the majority people that were bought out moved , too Rancho vista,barber Dr, Linda drive,,gravel St,, for those that know the Victoria El pasco are area that will flood again in time.

Obviously I was unaware of that. The flood in 2002 that breached the dam on Canyon lake had to have been more intense though. There's a great documentary covering that flood event, I believe on PBS. Here's another site:<br />
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The 1998 San Marcos flood was a 500 year flood, not a 100.<br />
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There are other sources, but that is a City of San Marcos document.

Well I just copied and pasted that portion from another site to show that I was not just making this up. I know the flood in 2002 was a "500 year" flood compared to the one in 1998 which was a "100 year" flood. I'm not sure about 2007...all I remember is that it rained like hell all of last summer when it's usually dry as a bone.

there is an error to your was July 2007 that the water spilled over the spillway. On 1998 the Army Corp of Engineers open the gates underneath the dam to allow water out of the lake so it would not go over spillway thus adding to flooding downstream from Canyon Lake. Here's the link

there is an error to your was July 2007 that the water went over the spillway. On 1998 the Army Corp of Engineers open the gates underneath the dam to allow water out of the lake so it would not go over spillway thus adding to flooding downstream from Canyon Lake. Here's the link

Your tale sounds quite a lot more serious than mine. I remember hearing about that this past winter. That must have been really terrible to deal with.

i've lieved in sw mo nearly my entire life. we see tornadoes frequently. they always say, "if you don't like the weather, just stay around for another 60 seconds." it's one of those places where we see extreme weather quite often. i was in addison, tx in mar '98. HOLY COW! it was about 75 deg at 7 a.m. and the rain was about 40 deg. it rained so hard it came down in sideways in sheets. it would bounce back up off the asphalt approximately 3 feet. i'd never seen it rain like that before. i was sure i was in the midst of a hurricane! i've never experienced it rain like that with a tornado so i knew something bad was on the horizon. i had to fly out that morning on one of those lil crop duster planes. it was awful. i'm not sure what happ'd later that day after i left texas. it may have been nothing. but it was scary and quite painful too. i came home bruised from RAIN! although i've never been through a flood, this past january sw mo was declared a national disaster due to an ice storm like none ever seen anywhere. it was INSANE! you couldn't walk outside because (BIG) tree limbs would fall regularly. people were dying while they walked their pets from the falling limbs. i'm not sure what the death toll ended up being. i had a tree come through my large picture window in the front room, letting out what lil heat we had left. there was no electric in some areas for up to 3 weeks! i was without electric for 9 days i believe. we had crews coming in from all over the country to dig us out from under the ice. some people i know - a tree came through their roof into their living room! now ... everywhere you look is nothing but these splintered pieces of wood sticking out of the ground - what's left of the trees. it's really sad looking. clean up of went on for 3 months!!! it took me and two other people a month working every day to clean up two backyards - mine and my rental house. the stacked limbs after clean up were taller and wider than the houses. you had to go across the street onto the neighbor's porch to see the roof of my house. it was insane! despite all that horror, i can't imagine trying to clean up after a flood. YUCK!