Posted by Matt Lanza at 10:00 AM
During Hurricane Harvey, I think we did a good job making pretty clear that our focus was to be on flooding. And ultimately, the majority of the damage and devastation wrought by Harvey as it moved through our region came via water. But one of the most surprising and occasionally unsettling aspects about Harvey’s impacts on Southeast Texas were the tornadoes. The warnings came fast, they came furious, and a number of them were confirmed.
The fine folks over at U.S. Tornadoes put together a really nice summary of this event, which likely ranks Harvey close to or in the top ten for most prolific tornado-producing tropical systems in the United States.
The Houston National Weather Service forecast office issued over 150 warnings for tornadoes through the storm. During that hellacious Saturday night and Sunday morning, over 30 tornado warnings were issued, most of them overlapping with flash flood warnings. We strongly encouraged people to keep their phone alerts on that night because the frequency of tornadoes was almost shocking (and because of numerous videos of an actual tornado in northwest Harris County late that Saturday afternoon that sort of drove home the point). That, coupled with the flooding likely lead to a long, sleepless night for many in the area. I’ll have some comments about the phone alerting issue at the end of the post.
The early tornadoes
First, let’s recap some of the tornadoes that actually occurred. The NWS Houston office has confirmed nearly 30 tornadoes as of September 14th, all of them either EF-0 or EF-1 strength. Here’s a look at some of the tornadoes.
Posted by Matt Lanza at 2:05 PM
Tuesday, 2:05pm CT— Good afternoon. Another dreary day across much of the region as Harvey (finally!) begins to slowly pick up some speed and pull away. Thankfully the Houston area has seen minimal additional rains today, with most places across the hardest hit spots earlier in the week at or below one inch of new rain. Today’s hardest hit location is clearly Galveston.
Now and Tonight
Harvey is a shell of what it once was, but it’s trying to take up a new lease on life as it leaves our area.
Harvey trying to reorganize a bit as it begins to exit the region. (GR Level 3)
Harvey has been hammering Galveston all morning with heavy rain over 7″ total today, along with strong winds. Gusts over 50 mph have occurred at times on the island. This will continue as Harvey pulls away, but with a slight downward trend eventually.
Rains have really cut back around Houston, which is great news for us. Our neighbors to the east are unfortunately now in a serious predicament with extremely heavy rain pointed at the Beaumont and Port Arthur area. These areas have been similarly battered by rainfall since the weekend. Heavy rains will lash that area through this evening, worsening a bad situation. Some additional rains may redevelop tonight over Houston, but around the city, rain totals today will be the lowest they’ve been since at least Saturday.
Tomorrow and Beyond
Harvey is on its way, and it will make landfall late tonight or tomorrow morning likely in Cameron Parish, LA or near Port Arthur. We should see rain risk trend downward tomorrow with just a few showers, mostly in the morning and amounts should be mainly inconsequential as it relates to flooding. Skies may not clear out completely, but many of you will see sunshine tomorrow I project. We will stay dry into the weekend before at least some rain chances (hopefully mostly scattered stuff and nothing too organized) returns to the picture after Labor Day. We’ll have more on that once we dust ourselves off after Harvey’s exit.
Posted at 2:05 PM Tuesday by Matt
Posted by Matt Lanza at 7:18 AM
Harvey has arrived in Houston.
Numerous flash flood warnings are posted right now across the Greater Houston area, as an eastern flank feeder band of the storm flows ashore.
Harvey slowly meandering between Victoria and Goliad, shipping intense rains into Houston. (College of DuPage)
These heavy rains are likely to continue throughout the day today. There may be lulls at times, but the dominant weather we see in Houston today is heavy rainfall, leading to street and possibly bayou flooding.
Rain totals have begun to add up. Generally 1-3″ north and east and 3-6″+ south and west since yesterday.
Rain totals through 6:45 AM Saturday are beginning to add up. (Harris County Flood Control)
As the day progresses, rain totals will balloon further. Some models show really impressive rain totals in the Houston area today. I would expect an average of 4-8″ today across the region, with higher amounts possible, especially on the south and west sides and perhaps a few spots east of the city with lesser amounts.
Bottom line in all this, you need to be prepared for significant travel inconvenience and disruption today. And if you can stay put, please do so.
Posted by Matt Lanza at 7:47 PM
As of 7:45 PM Friday, Hurricane Harvey has been officially upgraded by the National Hurricane Center to a category four storm with 130 mph maximum sustained winds. Port Aransas just gusted to 105 mph as the eyewall approaches. Should Harvey make landfall at its current intensity, it will be the strongest storm (by wind) to hit Texas since 1961’s Hurricane Carla (which came ashore just north of where Harvey should) and the strongest in the U.S. (by wind) since Charley hit Southwest Florida in 2004.
Haunting: Harvey strengthens to a Category 4 hurricane as it approaches landfall near Port Aransas and Rockport. (NOAA)
Coastal Texas from near Corpus Christi north to Matagorda are being absolutely pummeled by wind and squalls and they will continue to deal with this in the hours ahead. Few words needed to describe the situation there, and our thoughts are with folks that live in that region.
Here in the Houston area, things are also active. We’ve had numerous tornado warnings issued throughout the day today, mainly south of US-59 and I-10. As these squalls and feeder bands on the north side of Harvey come ashore, they are capable of producing brief tornadoes, mainly in the coastal counties. These are extremely difficult to warn on because they spin up so quickly, and the NWS Houston office has done an outstanding job thus far with them. If you are placed under a tornado warning tonight, do take it seriously and seek shelter at your location (lowest level of the building in an interior room). Have a way to receive warnings overnight. A tornado watch remains posted until at least 2 AM for the Houston area, along and south of US-59 to I-10.