National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Special Weather Statement - Elevated Heat Index Values Expected Through the Week

Elevated Heat Index values are expected through much of the week. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside in the afternoon. Stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade or an air conditioned building. Limit strenuous outdoor activities and check up on the elderly, sick and those without air conditioning. Never leave children or pets unattended in a vehicle...look before you lock. Read More >

 

 


 

30 Year Anniversary Video:

 


 

Weather Event Summary:

 During the late evening of July 16th, 1987 and into the early morning of the 17th thunderstorms developed and moved slowly eastward through the Hill Country of South Central Texas. The storms produced a train-effect, one following another, and a large area of 5-10 inches of rain fell in the upper headwaters of the Guadalupe River basin. The heavy rainfall was triggered by a mid level low interacting with a weak cold front and copious amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. As much as 11.50 inches of rain occurred 9 miles west of Hunt, Texas. This resulted in a massive flood wave that traveled down the Guadalupe River through Ingram, Kerrville, and eventually Comfort, Texas during morning hours of the 17th.  

The Guadalupe River at Comfort rose 29 feet that morning and crested at 31.50 feet, the ninth highest crest in recorded history. Upstream at Kerrville and Hunt the river crested at it's second highest crest on record and higher than the famous 1978 flood. At the peak of the flood the Guadalupe River was estimated to be two-thirds of a mile from its normal bank near Comfort, Texas.

Hundreds of other people along the Guadalupe River and its tributaries that night and morning had to be evacuated. The 1987 Guadalupe Flood is unfortunately known for the tragic loss of 10 teenagers lives and 33 other injuries when a bus and van leaving a church camp encountered the flood waters (see below).

 

  • Observed rainfall analysis from July 16-17, 1987 in the headwaters of the Guadalupe River. Amounts are in inches. Observed rainfall. 11.50" fell in the headwaters of the Guadalupe River

 

  • Analysis of surface cold front and position of mid level low late July 16 into early July 17, 1987.
  •  Infrared satellite image taken at 11 PM CDT July 16, 1987 showing storms over the Hill Country of Texas.

(Top): Observed rainfall. 11.50" fell in the headwaters of the Guadalupe River.  (Bottom Left): Analysis of surface cold front and position of mid level low the night of Jul 16 into the morning of Jul 17.  (Bottom Right): Infrared satellite image taken at 11 PM CDT Jul 16 showing storms over the Hill Country of Texas.

 


 

Seagoville Road Baptist Church/Balch Springs Christian Academy Bus and Van Tragedy:

The week preceding the 1987 Guadalupe River Flood more than 300 children from various churches were attending a church camp at the Pot O' Gold Ranch, which is located about two miles southwest of Comfort, Texas. The camp was scheduled to end later in the day on the July 17th, 1987, the day of the Guadalupe River Flood.

Law enforcement officials notified the camp around 2 AM and again around 6 AM of the flood wave coming down the Guadalupe River and to not try and cross the river. A decision was made to evacuate the children early to avoid being trapped at the camp. Around 745 AM a caravan of buses and a van left the camp. The buses and van encountered a flooded low water crossing on the Guadalupe River just outside the camp gate and decided to turn away and try an alternate route. The lead buses in the caravan successfully made the sharp turn to head a different direction. However the rapidly rising water from the river, now out of its banks, and the backwash from the convoy caused the last bus to stall and a van behind it to become stranded.

An attempt was made to evacuate the children off the bus and van, however as they were wading back to dry ground a wall of water, estimated to be as much as half a mile wide, rushed upon the campers. Although they tried to reach safety by forming a human chain, the rushing water scattered them. 39 teenagers and 4 adults were swept into the flood waters. 10 of the teenagers tragically drowned. The remaining 33 children and adults survived as a result of a series of rescues, including dramatic helicopter rescues of several clinging to tree tops, conducted by Texas DPS, the US Army’s 507th Medical Division, and a local television news station from San Antonio, Texas.

  • Seagoville Road Baptist Church bus swept into the Guadalupe River.
  • Map of the Pot O' Gold Campgrounds and location where bus stalled and van became trapped.

 

  • Compilation of rescues that took place July 17, 1987 (courtesy KENS 5 TV - San Antonio)

(Top Left): Seagoville Road Baptist Church bus swept into the Guadalupe River. (Top Right): Map of the Pot O' Gold Campgrounds and location where bus stalled and van became trapped. (Bottom Left): Compilation of rescues that took place July 17, 1987 (courtesy KENS 5 TV - San Antonio)

 


 

Survey Pictures:

  • NWS survey picture of the Guadalupe River in flood on July 17, 1987.
  • NWS survey picture estimating how high the peak of the flood waters were near the point where the church bus stalled and van became trapped.

(Left): NWS survey picture of the Guadalupe River in flood on July 17, 1987.  (Right): NWS survey picture estimating how high the peak of the flood waters were near the point where the church bus stalled and van became trapped.

 


 

Excerpts from Warnings and Statements Issued by NWS San Antonio:

 

Click for Larger View

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1987 Guadalupe River Flood Memorial

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Special Thanks:

KENS 5 TV - San Antonio