Posted by Eric Berger at 6:24 AM
Good morning. Tropical Storm Harvey has shown signs of better organization overnight, and now appears likely to become a Category 1 hurricane before landfall. However, given the warmth of the Gulf of Mexico and lowering wind shear levels, a stronger storm seems possible. As discussed Wednesday, models are increasingly focused on a landfall between Brownsville and Corpus Christi, and the National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane warnings for locations from Port Mansfield to Matagorda, Texas.
Tropical Storm Harvey forecast track. (National Hurricane Center)
This much of the forecast seems clear enough. Over the next two days, before Harvey makes landfall late on Friday or early Saturday, the storm will bring heavy rainfall, storm surge, and possible hurricane conditions to portions of the lower Texas coast. Through Saturday, some areas from South Padre Island through to Matagorda Bay, may receive a dozen inches of rain, or more. Barring a major change in forecast, locations further up the Texas coast, including Houston, will see seas rise 3 to 5 feet above normal levels, gusty winds, and perhaps 2 to 4 inches of rain through Saturday.
The key question for the upper Texas coast, including the Houston region, is what comes next.
Posted by Eric Berger at 6:40 AM
Houston will see continued warm weather—with highs in the low- to mid-90s—and scattered showers during the next couple of days, but our principal focus remains on the likely redevelopment of Tropical Storm Harvey, and its eventual movement toward Texas. Parts of the state will be be utterly soaked by the end of this weekend, and some flooding seems inevitable.
Tropical Storm Harvey at 6am CT on Wednesday. (Space City Weather/NOAA)
As of 6:30am Wednesday, a reconnaissance aircraft is flying around the large area of disturbed weather in the southern Gulf of Mexico, and may find a tropical depression. Some dry air appears to be slowing development right now, but the Gulf is warm and wind shear manageable, so some intensification is likely as the system moves northwest toward Texas during the next couple of days. While we cannot rule out rapid intensification, a phenomenon which is still relatively poorly understood, it is probable that Harvey will come ashore as a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane. A landfall between Corpus Christi and Matagorda seems most likely at this time. While we may see some storm surges of 3 to 5 feet with such a storm, and tropical storm-force winds, rainfall is by far the biggest concern.