Tag: harvey

Heat and minimal rain chances through the weekend

Posted by Matt Lanza at 6:37 AM

Good morning. Yesterday was the 16th day this month that we officially hit 95° or hotter in Houston. The last time we did that was 2013. At least this isn’t a repeat of 2011, when we did 95+ on 26 occasions. We will continue to flirt with 95 degrees for the final three days of June. More on that in a second. Below today’s forecast, we’ve got some analysis on the National Weather Service post-Harvey service assessment that was released last week. I farmed out some interesting tidbits for you that may be of interest. First, the forecast.

Today & Friday

More hot weather is in store for us over the next couple days. We had a handful of showers in the region yesterday, and we’ll probably have a handful more today. However, atmospheric moisture looks a bit more robust today than it did yesterday, so that should yield a slightly larger handful of showers than Wednesday. That said, we’re talking like 20 percent chances at best here. Basically, if you see a cooling shower today or tomorrow, consider yourself fortunate.

Temperatures will peak around the middle 90s once again both Thursday and Friday.

Weekend

Shower chances continue to look like they’ll dwindle to near zero this weekend. With that, expect more hot weather. Officially, high temperatures should reach the mid-90s both Saturday and Sunday. Take it easy outdoors, as it will continue to be quite humid and uncomfortable.

As noted yesterday, we will also be dealing with Saharan dust. Skies will be hazy or gray looking at times, despite sunshine. And again, if you have any respiratory ailments or bad allergies, you may want to take it a little extra easy this weekend, as air quality could be a little worse than usual.

Just to clarify, as we’ve gotten a handful of interesting questions, this isn’t a dust storm or big, unique event for us. This happens at least a few times a summer usually. The vast majority of us will notice more haze than usual and the color difference to the sky. Maybe, if we’re lucky, the sunsets and sunrises will be more vibrant, though I’m happy to put a Texas sunrise or sunset up against anyone’s on a normal day. Sometimes, too much dust can have the opposite effect and dull the sunsets or sunrises a bit.

The only real “impact,” per se, is the slight increase in particulate matter, which is why if you have bad allergies or other respiratory ailments, we encourage you to take it easy. It’s certainly meteorologically interesting and a nice reminder of how fascinating this marble is that we inhabit to realize that you’re seeing dust in the sky in Texas that’s come all the way from Africa.

Next week

We do still look to be on track for a change next week, though the details are very uncertain. We’ve got high confidence in Monday still looking a lot like the weekend, with some haze and plenty of heat and humidity. By Tuesday, a disturbance aloft will be approaching western Louisiana, perhaps generating slightly better storm chances east of Houston toward Beaumont or Lake Charles. After about Tuesday afternoon, forecast confidence trends downward. Wednesday will probably see our storm chances peak in the Houston area and just east, but depending on the speed and trajectory of next week’s disturbance, that could easily get pushed back to Thursday.

A disturbance in the upper atmosphere will help boost rain chances at some point next week, most likely between Wednesday and Thursday. (Tropical Tidbits)

So before you go cancelling any plans, just know that as of right now we don’t expect a washout on the Fourth of July yet, just a better than average chance of storms. That said, yes, if you have outdoor plans you want to stay tuned to the forecast, as this could shift one way or another pretty easily. More on this tomorrow.

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Post-Harvey week in review: December 11, 2017

Posted by Matt Lanza at 10:00 AM

Welcome back to our weekly Monday wrap-up of Harvey and flooding-related news you may have missed over the last seven days. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments. Previous recaps are here:

Post-Harvey week in review: December 4, 2017
Post-Harvey week in review: November 27, 2017
Post-Harvey week in review: November 20, 2017

Reads of the Week

Sunk Costs – Back-to-back record flooding along the Brazos River has forced people in Richmond to make an excruciating choice: Stay or go? (Texas Observer): The Brazos River at Richmond has seen four of its 10 highest crests on record since May of 2015. Some residents have flooded multiple times, and they now grapple with the question of where to go from here.

Developing Storm Part 1: Nature ruled, man reacted. Hurricane Harvey was Houston’s reckoning (Houston Chronicle): A multi-part series from the Chronicle began last week, and it aims to discuss the storm in the context of it not being exclusively a *natural* disaster. It’s worth reading. The first part discusses the reactions and decisions that had to be made in the heat of battle.

Developing Storm Part 2: Build, flood, rebuild: flood insurance’s expensive cycle (Houston Chronicle): Part two of the Chronicle series talks about the history of the National Flood Insurance Program. It discusses in depth how Congress has failed to act to make NFIP more fiscally viable.

Surveys & Symposiums

Survey: Harvey’s wrath affected 66 percent of Texans in its path (Corpus Christi Caller-Times): Two-thirds of people surveyed in counties affected by Harvey report that they have some sort of damage from the storm. They also report that help hasn’t quite been adequate to this point.

Report: An uneven recovery after Harvey threatens to leave people behind (Rice Kinder Institute): Almost half of people from Harris County that responded to an Episcopal Health Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation survey lost income from Harvey. Seventeen percent of people from 24 counties surveyed are now suffering a new or worsening health condition. Harvey’s damage has stretched people and resources thin and has led to cascading impacts that will continue to be felt in the region and threatens to leave vulnerable and lower-income populations behind.

Where do we go from here? Houston-area leaders grapple with Harvey aftermath (Houston Chronicle): The Houston Chronicle held a symposium last week to discuss Houston after Harvey. Here are some highlights from that event.

(Space City Weather is brought to you this month by the Law Office of Murray Newman) Read More…

Post-Harvey week in review: November 20, 2017

Posted by Matt Lanza at 3:47 PM

As part of our commitment to helping the community recover from Hurricane Harvey, we thought it would be helpful to write a “week in review” post every Monday. In the post-Harvey world, there has been no shortage of news about recovery, future projects, and ramifications of all that happened during the storm. This weekly post, largely produced by Matt, attempts to summarize the major news of the week, without editorializing. Please feel free to share anything we missed in the comments, or suggest additions for next week’s post.

Read of the week

The U.S. Flooded One of Houston’s Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else (Bloomberg Businessweek): November 20th’s edition of Bloomberg Businessweek highlights the dam releases from Addicks and Barker and subsequent flooding in West Houston for their cover story. The article offers a synopsis of what happened and the challenges of ongoing litigation as a result of the flooding.

November 20th’s Bloomberg Businessweek talks about some of the Energy Corridor’s experiences during Harvey. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Harvey Recovery

Repairs to Harvey-damaged San Jac bridge to start early 2018 (Houston Chronicle): TxDOT has a lot to consider after Harvey, including elevating roads. Meanwhile, work to repair the US-59/I-69 bridge over the San Jacinto River, which was heavily damaged by the flooding will begin after Christmas. Some of the repair work could be quite substantial.

After Harvey, A Once-Lively Neighborhood Finds Silence (Houston Public Media): Meyerland residents grapple with the decision to relocate or rebuild higher.

Nearly $29M being sent to more than 90 nonprofits in 2nd round of Harvey fund distribution (ABC 13): After $7 million was distributed last month, another $29 million of Harvey relief donations will be distributed among a whole bunch of local organizations to help folks in and around Houston.

It’s official: KHOU not returning to Allen Parkway (KHOU): After being flooded during Harvey, KHOU will seek out a new permanent home.

Houston area groups propose plan for how third Hurricane Harvey relief package should be distributed (Community Impact News): The U.S. House will soon pass a third aid package for Harvey relief. Governor Abbott has asked for over $61 billion in funding for various flood control projects and buyouts in addition to recovery. Much of that request is based on the Rebuild Texas plan. Another group has advocated for more comprehensive flood control the rest of Harris County. You can read about some of the differences between Rebuild Texas and this Better Houston plan in the article.

Texans blast Trump’s $44B storm relief package as ‘inadequate’ as White House goes on defense (Dallas News): Speaking of, the latest White House proposal for hurricane relief falls quite a bit short of what the governor had asked for from Congress.

Flood control plan for stretch of Buffalo Bayou could result in removal of trees (Houston Chronicle): Studies and discussions about how to control flooding on Buffalo Bayou could result in trees being removed for projects, such as detention ponds.

After Harvey, Houston arts groups on precarious footing as critical holiday season nears (Houston Chronicle): The Theater District in downtown Houston was hit tremendously hard by Harvey. Recovery is slow and challenging, and it may take several years to fully recover. Read More…

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…