This evening’s infrared satellite view of Tropical Storm Harvey, at 10:15PM, shows that it has really gotten its act together today and strengthening is very slowly occurring now that the shear is relaxing a bit. You can see the start of some banding features to the east of the center, as well as stronger rotation in the lower level clouds to the left (west) of the big yellow and red blob of convection. Per the NHC, Harvey should steadily deepen and strengthen over time, and the expectation is that it will be a category 1 hurricane at landfall. Currently, Harvey has a central pressure of 29.59 inches, maximum sustained winds of 40 MPH, and is moving to the NW at a measly 2 MPH.
Per the usual, the earlier, very clustered, models have now become…well, a cluster. Which is hard to explain, and believe, when we now have a plethora of data in and around the storm, but we have to work with it. Most tracks, and the official NHC track below, continue to put it inland around Corpus Christi. Some models take it SW and dissipate over Mexico, some loop it around and back over water for a second landfall, and some just sit there over southern Texas. Regardless, all the rain and moisture will be streaming in on the east side of the system, so flooding rainfall is still a threat. I can only hope that the models get a bit more…in agreement…. overnight. All that said, I expect rain to begin in SE Texas Friday evening, and then on and off rain through Saturday. Depending on the eventual track, we could be seeing lots of rain from Harvey through Wednesday of next week. So 8-12+ inch rainfall totals are still possible in and around Houston!! Don’t let your guard down. NHC Track Guidance below. Big giant white circle literally means….no one knows. Actually, it means, weak steering and we don’t know. All kidding aside, it is a very dangerous situation when these prolific rain making storms stall and meander around slowly while dropping inches of rain per hour.
The Weather Prediction Center has updated their rainfall total map through the next 7 days, through Wednesday night of next week, and they have a very significant rainfall total bulls-eye just west of Galveston. 13.6 inches of rainfall with most of SE Texas receiving 7-12 inches of rain. Most of the rainfall occurs between Sunday and Wednesday as Harvey has made very slow progress towards Texas today, and future track beyond 96 hours is uncertain. Again, if you live in a flood prone area, you should begin making plans to evacuate if future forecasts show this level of rainfall and flooding potential for your area. If you wait until Sunday night to leave, it may be too late and you could be trapped in your location for the duration of the event. Don’t put yourself or your family in that situation.
Take a look at these crazy models. I’ve seen more organization in my kid’s hair first thing in the morning than this, but it’s a close call. Honestly, it’s frustrating for meteorologists too, because we have to depend on these models to give us some clarity for the future, and these do, out to about 72 hours, then they don’t really. So we have this looming, devastating, flood potential on the horizon – in 72-120 hours – and we’re trying to decide which of these is going to be right… I will say, too, that this is typical of slow-moving storms with weak steering currents, so it’s not all that shocking, but it is very frustrating.
If a Texas Coastal Bend Landfall occurs (near Corpus Christi) , here’s what the Houston/Galveston area can expect…
Beginning very early Friday morning, swells begin to arrive on the beach creating rough beach conditions, higher than normal tides, rip currents, and beach erosion. Some low-lying beach access roads or low-lying bay roads and areas could see coastal flooding from the elevated tides. Winds also begin to increase to near or at Tropical Storm force (assuming a fairly strong tropical storm or cat.1 hurricane at landfall). Squalls begin arriving Friday evening or late night, rain will be on and off through Saturday and possibly most of Sunday, before picking up through Tuesday or even Wednesday – assuming the eastward track over time. Depending on wind strength, some power outages are possible if tree roots become too weak from rainfall and trees fall on power lines. Flooding threat is at its maximum Sunday evening through Tuesday based on the data we have at the moment.
Wave forecasts show waves as high as 9 feet approaching the coast where the storm makes landfall. With a Corpus Christi landfall, waves of 3-5 feet look likely for Galveston on Saturday. Again, swells will be arriving on Friday. The conditions will be rough and dangerous.
Stay tuned to us as well as the National Hurricane Center, and National Weather Service office for more information as this situation develops!
Stay Safe!! Prepare now!!