Imelda heading for the exits, but the damage is surely done

Good afternoon, everyone. Before jumping into the forecast, I just wanted to provide some perspective. Since the National Hurricane Center began naming Atlantic storms in 1950, just two tropical storms have had their names retired: Allison, in 2001; and Erika in 2015. Soon we will have three, with Imelda.

Many readers will certainly remember Allison. It made me want to become a meteorologist. Tropical Storm Erika was a prodigious rainmaker that killed 31 people in Dominica and Haiti. There will be time over the coming days to put Imelda into historical perspective. But here are a few quick thoughts:

  • For parts of Golden Triangle, the rain intensity and impacts were worse than Hurricane Harvey, which is staggering.
  • For that region, Imelda is overall worse than Tropical Storm Allison was for Houston.
  • And in Houston, this Allison-lite. The heaviest rains (25″+) so far have been in relatively rural parts of Montgomery County. Amazingly, there are locations in Harris County under 1 inch for the entire storm.

Thursday evening

You don’t need a meterologist to tell you that the incredibly productive rainfall band that began this morning in Montgomery and Liberty counties has sagged southward, soaked Harris County, and is now mercifully now moved toward the exits. It should (mostly) continue to push slowly out of Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Galveston counties between now and sunset.

Just go away, Imelda. ( City Weather)

The atmosphere over Houston is pretty worked over. We should generally see diminishing storm coverage heading into sunset, and later this evening although we can’t rule out the re-development of some showers and thunderstorms. For the Houston metro area, we feel pretty good about not seeing another super-organized band of storms like we saw today—or anything approaching it. Areas far north of Houston, and we’re thinking more Walker and San Jacinto counties than Montgomery and Liberty counties, could see some more organized development later tonight.


Scattered showers will be possible Friday, but these generally should pop up, move through, and be done. They could exacerbate flooding in some areas, but their transience means they should not cause significant problems in and of themselves. Conditions continue to improve over the weekend.

Roads are a mess. Imelda messed with Texas. (Drive Texas)

Alas the damage is done. Anyone traveling today likely had a rough go of things. If you can stay home this evening, please do so. The roads should generally improve for tomorrow morning, but that assumes the forecast behaves tonight. If you experienced flood damage today, I am so sorry. Imelda has sucked and needs to move on.

Note: The site will go down for 10-15 minutes at about 6pm CT Thursday to ensure another outage like Wednesday night does not occur.

42 thoughts on “Imelda heading for the exits, but the damage is surely done”

    • Thank you !

      Can anyone advise if water in Houston is still safe to drink? Have heard no news on this today.
      Thank you again

  1. Wowza. That was a doozy. We had a reported rainfall rate of 1 inch in 15 minutes in Katy. Thank you for your stellar reporting, as always!

  2. Eric and Matt, thank you both for your efforts. God Bless the people that are flooded, stranded, and ? I don’t know what else to say. Take care everyone.

  3. Thank you both for your incredible reporting! You are my go to weather guys every single day! Bless you and bless all those who have been impacted by this horrible storm!

  4. Eric…Mother Nature will always be “in charge”…the expertise you and Matt share is light-years better than any other weather outlet…when you all don’t worry, I don’t worry…when you all worry, I defiantly worry…I was worried this time because your reporting clearly indicated I should be…an outstanding service…thank you! Get some rest…we are going to need you again…

  5. Thank you, again. You all are amazing and should receive national awards. People have commented on this site they’ve given up on Houston and moved away, but I was asked after Harvey if I would consider moving (I’m a native as is my husband) and without thinking I said, “I have Space City Weather so no need to.” I think that’s the best way to sum up the impact you all have on my life. Thank you.

  6. It is becoming clear that SE Texas is going to suffer mightily from this rapidly warming world and climate change. Events such as this, recurring with stunning frequency, will begin to slowly push people and commerce away. The costs are just going to be of an unimaginable magnitude for Houston, I’m afraid.

  7. Here in Kingwood people have been hit hard with street flooding and water entering into structures just from the sheer volume of precipitation. I’m wondering if there is a way to predict if the flooding we experienced with Harvey, from rivers and creeks and lake releases, can be predicted.

    Thanks so much for the excellent information. You provide the Houston area with an invaluable service.

  8. After Harvey destroyed our home, possessions and cars, we were in a state of shock for months afterward, but the first long weeks were just hell. Disorienting, hopeless hell. While throwing what remained of our waterlogged lives and home out onto the huge pile in the street day after day after day, wearing the same wet clothes from the flood…the one bright spot was when a kind stranger would pull up in their car and offer us some food, some cleaning supplies, some drinks on ice…or a bucket containing all of the above. This happened a few times, and was so meaningful to us. Those people were angels, and they’ll never know how grateful we were, and are. We were lucky this time, but in the coming days, we will be driving to Winnie or other areas that were hit hard, and will be paying it forward in whatever way we can. Snacks, drinks, a hot meal, even rolls of paper towels and bleach. Anything. We don’t have much but will do what we can. Please think about doing the same. Even the smallest gift and kindness means everything to somebody that’s just lost everything.

  9. Yes! Great coverage, Eric!

    I often wonder about that Jeff somebody from the HC Flood Control who had to endure those progressively more awful Harvey press conferences–with each one he had to tell a different neighborhood that they were about to flooded. BEST PERFORMANCE EVER UNDER INTENSE FIRE! Where was he this week? Do you ever visit with him?

    Thanks again!

    • Jeff was there on tv/press conferences. Clearly its not his most favorite thing. Harvey was just so very broad in its span, and the reservoirs are fine this time, so he didnt have quite as much to talk about this time around.

  10. I’m aware that hindsight is 20/20, and the real-time coverage provided by this site has been tremendous. (Long-time fan! Moved to the area from the East Coast between Katrina and Rita, believe it or not. It was a not-so-fun introduction to the Golden Triangle.) Further, our region is so large, and precipitation coverage likes to clump, rather than achieve a nice, neutral, median distribution over the whole area.

    (Hence why someone in one area who complains that they ‘haven’t seen so much as an inch’ and how it’s all being ‘over hyped’ . . . . is someone who doesn’t appreciate their own raw luck, or that their neighbors are getting whacked.)

    That being said, and I know that it’s waaaay too early yet for lessons-learned stuff, but it’s going to be interesting to play this back and see what we can learn from it. 🙁

  11. This is why I have continued to buy flood insurance every year since being transferred here and moving to The Woodlands in 1998. Yes it costs about $450 a year., but I have peace of mind when (not if) an Allison, a Harvey, an Imelda or any of their “siblings” decide to bother us.

    I too am sorry if anyone got flooded.

    • We started buying flood insurance after Allison when we heard someone from the flood control district say “if you live in Harris county you need flood insurance” and we saw what just one inch of water did in a friend’s home. Never had to make a claim till the tax day flood in 2016, and then again after Harvey. Obviously our premium is now way higher than the $450.00/year, but still worth every bit when compared to what it costs to put a home back together.

      My deepest empathy goes out to all who are hurting tonight from Imelda’s rains.

  12. There are still places NW of Houston only 100 miles away that have not seen a drop of rain since before July 4th. For those of us with Ag interests in the area, it’s been depressing to see the flooding to the SE and be wishing for just 1” to head our way…really frustrating week for sure.

  13. I will never doubt y’alls forecasting again. I’m in Spring, near the airport and thought that last rain band would stay more in the Kingwood area and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had gone into work at the airport near Lee Rd and by 9:30 I began to realize it wasn’t going to get better. I took a run for the house at 10:30 during a “lull” in the insanity and it took 3 hours to go less than 7 miles. Every way into our subdivision off of Cypresswood was inundated in water. I drive a Suburban and made it through a lot of water but I have my limit. I saw so many swamped out cars and trucks it was crazy. Next time ya’ll say it could be bad I’m working from home. Thank you for all you do to keep us safe!

  14. I’m trying to figure out how much of a surprise this was after Wednesday night. The school district is very much on the defensive and blame passing for having sent kids to school and having them sincerely shelter in place and have a rotten way home on Thursday.

  15. I hope all the Space City Weather Fans (and everyone else) is ok. It was good spending the date ya’all today and reading your comments. We aren’t alone!!!

    Until next storm!

  16. I have excitedly observed your flood scale since you introduced it. The world needs such an index, and we need to start recognizing low-grade tropical storms as the high-grade flood disasters that they are.

    I wonder about your current rating for Imelda. You have this one rated at 3. The description of 4 states thousands of homes affected and a city shut down. I read earlier today that there had been over a thousand rescues, and Bush International shuttered itself for hours. Does Imelda not qualify as a 4?


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