Tag: flooding

Houston beyond Hurricane Harvey

Posted by Matt Lanza at 10:00 AM

On Tuesday evening, just as the Astros took the field for game one in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of attending a Baker Institute event at Rice University featuring Dr. Jim Blackburn. “Beyond Hurricane Harvey” was a discussion and Q&A with Blackburn, who is the co-director of the Severe Storms Prevention, Education, and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center at Rice. During Tuesday’s event, Blackburn basically laid out his vision for how we need to discuss and tackle Houston’s flooding problem from this point forward. Many of these ideas were incorporated by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in the plan that he unveiled on Wednesday. Nevertheless, here is a summary  and some of my takeaways from Tuesday’s event.

Tuesday night’s event was held at the Rice University Baker Institute by their young professionals group. (Matt Lanza)

As a quick note, Blackburn has published two papers in the wake of Harvey. Much of what he covered Tuesday night is covered in these papers too. The first addresses initial policy ideas after Harvey. The second describes the public/private non-profit entity described below. Both are very informative and useful reads, and I would encourage our readers to get involved in this. As I said in my own Harvey post-mortem: It is now time for a new generation of Houstonians to work out new solutions to this complex problem.

Turning point: Blackburn opened by calling Harvey a turning point in Houston’s history. This is basically our moment to get this right. We all know we live in a city that is prone to flooding. We can never stop that from happening, but we can manage it in ways that will reduce the financial and human toll that has accompanied recent flooding events. Houston has an opportunity now to become the world leaders at weather and climate resiliency. While showing a chart of hurricane tracks impacting the Texas coast, Blackburn related the story of Indianola and Galveston. Indianola was wiped out by a hurricane in 1886, and we know the story of Galveston after 1900. Blackburn believes that Houston’s future as a leading American and global city may hinge on what we are able to accomplish over the next several months. If we bungle the response to this disaster, we could be looking at a steady economic decline in our region.

Blackburn referred to this situation as a new “Jesse Jones moment” for Houston. Speed couldn’t be emphasized enough. We need to get these solutions moving now, while the wounds from Harvey (and previous events) are still fresh and raw. The longer we wait, the less likely we’ll accomplish meaningful action. Amusingly, Blackburn shared the “Off the Charts” report published by Harris County Flood Control after Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

We were in the same boat 16 years ago, but we still have a long way to go. (HCFCD)

Here we are again. We need a vision, a plan (we seem to have those moving forward), and now we need to mobilize the public and persuade our elected leaders to take action immediately. Blackburn was asked whether Houston’s infamous lack of zoning contributed to the problems from Harvey. He made the point that it was not a major cause, but what is a problem is the typical, almost “closed door” nature of Harris County government. Lots of items get addressed really quickly without much discussion at various county meetings. The population of this area is also somewhat agnostic toward government participation. We’re not engaged enough. For problems as big as this, everyone needs to be firing on all cylinders, taking politicians to task, asking questions, demanding transparency. It’s easy to be cynical, but in this situation, it’s important not to be. Read More…

Good morning. Heartbroken and sick over some of the news and stories this morning. Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected. Unfortunately we need to talk about the weather, as this will continue.

Off the top, we can’t tell you much more than to follow instructions of local government, NWS Houston, and Harris County Flood Control. Stay tuned to a media outlet using radio/TV.

A Civil Emergency Message has been posted regarding folks trapped in their homes.

Via NWS Houston and Jeff Lindner: Residents trying to escape rising floodwaters should go on their roof, do NOT go into the attic. Also if calling 911, stay on the phone until it is answered.

I am directly copying Eric’s words from overnight here:

“Speaking of that, for the first time ever, the National Weather Service just issued what it is calling a “Flash Flood Emergency for Catastrophic Life Threatening Flooding.” And not to sound too flippant, but that sounds really bad. You should probably heed their advice—WHICH IS SIMPLY DO NOT TRAVEL. DO NOT IMPEDE WATER RESCUES IN PROGRESS.

Is that clear enough?

(National Weather Service)

If you home has flooded, then we are truly sorry. No words from us can begin to address that problem. But we can say that millions of people have been through this before, and it can be done. Some good, basic advice, can be found here. And although this handbook from FEMA is dated, it provides detailed steps to take care of yourself, your family, and your property in the aftermath of a flooding event.”

Weather going forward

As of 6:30 AM rains continue to fall heavily, at a rate of 1-3″ per hour in spots.

No words. It continues. (College of DuPage)


Over the next 12-18 hours, expect this cycle to continue. Waves of rain, heavy at times. There will probably be breaks. What this does is both limit how bayous can drain and worsens flooding in spots. It’s bad and it’s going to likely stay bad through the day. Some folks may see another 6-12″ of rain today and tonight.

Rain will continue in similar fashion on Monday as Harvey drifts south and then begins to make the turn back north. The setup begins to change a bit on Tuesday, but at this point I still think periods of heavy rain are likely. Harvey should finally move far enough north on Wednesday to not shut off the rain, but reduce it to manageable levels.

In addition to the rain, Tornado Warnings continue cropping up from time to time. This threat will continue through the day today, with hopes that it will be at a slower pace than the last two days.

We’ll have another update around 9 AM or so. Please be safe.

Posted at 6:40 AM Sunday by Matt

Rains tonight likely east of Houston

Posted by Matt Lanza at 2:54 PM

We aren’t quite done with rains yet in the Houston area, but there is some good news at least.

Taking a look at the satellite imagery from the still-not-quite-operational GOES-16 satellite this afternoon, you can see a “swirl” in the clouds over Southeast Texas. Specifically, this swirl is centered over southeast Montgomery County.

Preliminary and non-operational GOES-16 imagery shows a “swirl” in the clouds north of Houston. The system responsible for last night’s flooding has moved a bit farther east today. (University of Wisconsin SSEC)


This is the mesoscale convective vortex (or MCV) that’s been partially responsible for the mayhem across Texas the last couple days. This was over the Brazos Valley yesterday evening, and the heavy storms tend to develop on the eastern flank of these things. With that roughly over Spring now, that would seem to imply that widespread storms and rain tonight will probably develop east of I-45 and east of the hardest hit areas from this morning. That’s the good news.

In fact, we have some validation for this from the HRRR model, which did an acceptable job with the setup last night.

The HRRR model shows more widespread showers & storms mainly east of Houston tonight. Still, it’s close enough that you should stay aware of the weather tonight. (Weather Bell)


This suggests, yes, perhaps some scattered downpours around Houston this evening and tonight, but the sustained, heavier rains that could cause problems will probably be east of Houston, lined up roughly on an axis from Galveston through Winnie into Beaumont. Those areas can handle a little more rainfall than, say, Katy or Jersey Village can. Still, if you live in Galveston or Baytown or east of Houston, obviously you’ll want to stay alert tonight. And even if you live in Houston, it’s smart to remain cognizant of the situation. Though it’s unlikely we see a repeat of what we just went through, it’s always a good idea to stay weather aware during these heavy rainfall patterns.

A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Harris, Chambers, Montgomery, Liberty, Polk, and San Jacinto Counties through Wednesday morning.

The bottom line? A repeat of this morning is not expected in Houston tonight. Areas east of Houston stand the best chance of heavy rain tonight. Regardless, in Houston and east of Houston, it’s a smart idea to stay aware of the weather tonight and Wednesday morning.

Posted at 2:55 PM Tuesday by Matt

Worst of Houston’s rain over

Posted by Matt Lanza at 4:38 PM

Just a brief update for you for the late afternoon and evening.

We have good news: The heaviest rain this afternoon organized a bit too late to hit the areas hardest hit this morning. Instead, heavy rain is now sliding off to the east of Houston.

Narrow band of heavy rain has moved east of Baytown and extends south to about League City as of 3:30 PM. (College of DuPage)


Most rain will exit east of the city for the evening commute. You will want to continue to watch for areas of high water around the area. The Flood Warning remains in effect for the western Harris, northern Fort Bend, and northeast Wharton Counties until 4:15 PM. Additional minor flooding is possible along Little Cypress Creek, but serious flooding in northern Harris County is not expected.

For tonight and tomorrow morning, I do expect showers to re-organize, but with the front now off to the east of most of Houston, the heavy rainfall threat will shift toward Beaumont or (more likely) Lake Charles. In Houston, just expect some showers, maybe a rumble of thunder, but no severe weather and likely no serious flooding issues.

HRRR model forecast shows the idea of rain redeveloping tonight, with the heaviest off to the east of Houston. (Weather Bell)


By tomorrow, this will all be history. We should see gradual clearing and a nice break from rain.

Posted at 3:35 PM by Matt

(Space City Weather is sponsored by Westbury Christian School for this month)