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  • Significant Events

    The Amarillo area is vulnerable to a variety of hazards.  Below are some images and writeups from a few significant events over the past couple of years that have impacted our area.

    • February 27, 2011 Wildfire
    • Most Significant Wildfires of the 2011 Season
    • Historic 2011 Drought
    • July 7, 2010 Flood Event

    February 27, 2011 Wildfire

    • Click to View Timeline of Events
      • Local Disaster Declarations for:  City of Amarillo, Potter County, and Randall County
      • U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Declaration for Potter County and Randall County based on individual uninsured/underinsured property losses
      • Two fire recieving shelters were opened:  River Road Baptist Church (for Willow Creek Complex Fire) & the Cowboy Church (for Tanglewood Complex Fire)
      • Willowcreek South Complex wildfire
        •  Evacuation of approximately 1,250 residents
        •  Consumed 24,310 acres
        •  Destroyed 37 residences and 70 outbuildings with an estimated property value loss of $7,035,547. 
      • Tanglewood Complex wildfire
        •  Evacuation of approximately 1,539 residents
        •  Consumed 1,224 acres
        •  Destroyed 33 residences and 40 outbuildings with an estimated property value loss of $5,965,880.
    • Potter/Randall Fires (view video of images taken by various agencies that day)
    • On February 27, 2011, the National Weather Service Amarillo forecast indicated extreme Red Flag fire weather conditions with critically dry fuel moisture, single-digit relative humidity values, and high wind warnings based on forecasted sustained winds of 40+ mph with gusts exceeding 60 mph.  The extreme weather conditions centered on the Amarillo area mirrored a fire weather phenomenon found by local National Weather Service and Texas Forest Service researchers conducive for large wildfire outbreaks.  While multiple fires broke out throughout West Texas, the most devastating wildfires in terms of property damage occurred in Amarillo area.  

      Imagery before (2010) and after the fire (2011).  Click each image for a larger view.  Aerials & oblique imagery were obtained through a contract with Pictometry following the local disaster declarations.

        

    Helicopter Fire Lines and Actual Post Fire Imagery (First Image:  Fire scar for the Willow Creek fire w/helicopter fireline overlay.  Second Image: Fire scar for the Tanglewood Complex fire w/helicopter fireline overlay.)

     

    Most Significant Wildfires of the 2011 Season 

    Historic 2011 Drought (As of Tuesday, June 28, 2011)

    • Current Yearly Precipitation Total:  1.17 inches
    • Continues to be the driest start to the year on record since 1892, breaking the 2.88 inches record of 1953.  Normal precipitation is 19.71 inches for the year.
    • In comparison to the drought between 1952-1956:
      • 1953 held the record for the least amount of rainfall for the start of the year prior to 2011.  The year ended with 13.05 inches (number 6 on the driest year).  The year received most of its rainfall in August (2.0 inches) and October (4.56 inches).
      • 1956 and 1955 by the end of June were standing at 5.47 inches and 5.49 inches (ranked number 5 and 6 as the driest starts to the year).  They ended with 9.94 inches and 13.71 inches for total rainfall for the year respectively, also ranking as number 5 and 6 on the driest year rankings.  1956 received most of its rainfall in June (2.03 inches) and July (2.82 inches).  1955 received most of its rainfall in July (3.35 inches) and September (3.13 inches).
      • 1970 ranked number 4 for the driest starts to the year with 5.24 inches of rainfall.  1970 currently holds the record for the least amount of rainfall with 9.56 inches of rain.
      • May:  19 days over 90 degrees and 3 over 100 degrees.
      • June: 24 days over 90 degrees and 12 over 100 degrees and 5 days over 105 degrees.
      • Amarillo has set 16 daily record high temperatures in 2011, including setting a new all time high temperature of 111 degrees on June 26th (breaking previous record of 109 degrees on June 24th, 2011).
      • In comparison to the drought between 1952-1956 and the year 1970 (in regards to temperature):
        • 2011 saw more days in May over 90 degrees (second hottest was 1953 with 14 days) but 1953 saw one more day of 100+ degrees.
        • 1953 had more days (29 days) than currently 2011 has seen in days in June over 90 degrees.  1953 and 2011 are tied in regards to days in June over 100 degrees. **Note June data for 2011 is as of 6/28/2011.
        • Total Red Flag Warning days for Potter/Randall:  43 (previous record was 35 in 2008)
        • May: 14 days with wind gusts higher than 40 mph with 4 of those days gusts greater than 50mph
        • June:  11 days with wind gusts higher than 40 mph with 2 of those days gusts greater than 50mph

    July 7, 2010 Flood Event – Download Report 

    On  July 7-8, 2010, rain showers produced flash flooding across Potter and Randall counties in the Texas Panhandle.  Over a three hour period, heavy intense rainfall caused many of the streets to become impassable, stalling numerous vehicles caught in rapid rising waters, and required emergency personnel to respond to over 30 swift water rescues throughout the city.  Additionally, many businesses and homes in east and southwest Amarillo sustained minor flooding.  Among the most costly damage occurred to three facilities located east of Amarillo – the Highland Park Elementary School, Pantex, and the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.  Highland Park School observed the highest storm total of 11.04 inches of rainfall and experienced two to four feet of water in parts of the school.  Significant flooding along Highway 60 and flooded roadways leading to the Pantex facility forced the plant to close on Thursday, July 8.  Meanwhile, Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport saw a storm total of 7.33 inches of rainfall which flooded the entire basement, crippling essential equipment and requiring personnel to revert to alternative measures to ensure continuation of airport operations.