The following is a joint analysis from STWX Strategic Meteorologist Dan Schreiber and Del Rio Weather Alerts Meteorologist Alex Menchaca. Most storm damage images were discovered on social media, including from the Eagle Pass News Leader and EPTXN Facebook pages.
Active weather across the southern Great Plains this week has resulted in numerous reports of damaging hail, wind, tornadoes, and flash flooding across the state of Texas. As of the morning of March 20th, Del Rio international Airport had received just over three inches of rain for the month of March – the third highest rainfall amount accumulated during the month on record – with still eleven days to go. This has worked to quench the severe drought conditions experienced since last summer.
Very early Thursday morning, around 2:30 AM, a powerful thunderstorm transitioned across the Rio Grande from Mexico and over Lake Amistad. This storm was accompanied by significant rotation as it moved over the Lake View area, just west of the Highways 90 & 277 intersection, although no tornado or funnel cloud has been publicly reported. However, large hail – between an inch to inch-and-a-half in diameter – was reported by multiple residents in the vicinity of the Lake Amistad Dam, as well as powerful winds. Although not confirmed on the ground due to the semi-rural area impacted, radar imagery indicated hail sizes of up to two inches, and wind potential as high as 70 miles per hour, which triggered several National Weather Service warnings for the storm as it moved northeasterly into Hill Country.
A second severe, supercell thunderstorm was experienced in Eagle Pass on the evening of March 19th, with similar – but slightly more dangerous – characteristics as it’s early morning twin in Del Rio. Unlike Del Rio’s storm, the Eagle Pass thunderstorm caused widespread damage across the city – especially the north and central portions – due to extremely powerful winds. Hail the size of ping-pong balls was also reported, and there have been unconfirmed reports of a tornado (as of Friday morning).
Similar to the Del Rio storm, the Eagle Pass storm moved across the Rio Grande at about 8:00 PM, leaving drifts of large hail accumulations as far north as Quemado. An extremely dangerous gust front formed just ahead of the storm, leading to widespread downed trees, downed power lines, structural damage, and even reportedly blew a roof off of a building. Law enforcement and Fire Department radio traffic became inundated with damage reports and storm-related emergencies, including a gas leak at a damaged property and an 18-wheeler flipped over on the Highway 57 just east of town.
According to Del Rio Weather Alerts' Meteorologist Alex Menchaca, the Del Rio/Eagle Pass area’s severe weather season is usually highlighted with a few supercell thunderstorms, especially due to the fact that the atmospheric ingredients needed for severe weather are so evidently present during this time. It is well documented that low pressure to the west provides the instability, wind shear, and atmospheric lift needed for thunderstorm development with the help of the Serranias Del Burro mountains in the state of Coahuila, Mexico.
Furthermore, Menchaca states that this combines with the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico as winter transitions into springtime. The dry-line in west Texas, as well as late-season cold fronts from the north, can also be a great initiator of severe weather. These factors usually play into the long-live supercells that form and become squall lines which eventually impact cities such as San Antonio, Austin, and even the Dallas-Fort Worth area. That’s why it is always important to have a method to receive weather information whenever a severe weather is forecasted.
STWX Strategic is a meteorology consulting firm located in Del Rio, Texas, with specialties in emergency management weather planning, forensic meteorological investigations, and aviation weather, managed by Meteorologist Dan Schreiber. Likewise, Del Rio Weather Alerts is a Facebook page run by Meteorologist Alexander Menchaca, which has become a trusted go-to community page for severe weather updates in the Del Rio area.