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Harvey- Winds At Landfall Then Rain for Everyone Else

Posted by on Aug 25, 2017 in blog, Storm Warnings, storm water | 0 comments

From Space City Weather 

Good morning, everyone. After an overnight lull in strengthening, perhaps caused by some dry air working its way into the circulation of Hurricane Harvey, the storm has begun intensifying again. As of 6am CT it had sustained winds of 110 mph, but with the central pressure continuing to fall, the storm’s winds will almost certainly increase. For Texas, there will be two epochs of Harvey: the catastrophic effects from wind and surge during the next day or so for the central Texas coast, and the unfolding, widespread, major flood event from Saturday through the middle of next week for a large swath of the state, including Houston. We will discuss both this morning.

Wind and Surge

We remain confident in the forecast track for Harvey during the next 24 hours, as it moves northwest across the Gulf of Mexico, and comes ashore somewhere near Port Aransas. If you live in, or have property from Rockport to Matagorda, preparations for devastating winds—probably about 120 mph sustained, but maybe higher—should be completed by early this afternoon.


National Hurricane Center forecast track at 4am CT, with probability of hurricane force winds (red high, green low). Also storm surge warnings are shown in red markings along the coast.
Storm surge will be a major problem for low-lying coastal areas. According to the latest National Hurricane Center storm surge forecast, the following numbers represent the realistic “worst case” inundation. This means the depth of water above the ground. You can visit the site itself to zoom in to any location along the Texas coast.

  • Mustang Island to Sargent, including Matagorda Bay: 6-12 feet
  • Sargent to Jamaica Beach: 5-8 ft
  • Jamaica Beach to High Island: 2-4 ft
  • Galveston Bay (Seabrook, Shoreacres, Nassau Bay, Kemah, San Leon) 2-4 ft

For Houston, aside from the above surge numbers, the effects from the immediate landfall of Hurricane Harvey will be relatively modest. As we’ve discussed, winds Friday night and Saturday morning should be manageable, although some areas may briefly see some tropical storm-force winds. The power grid is designed to withstand these conditions—so hopefully most of us will keep the lights on.

Inland flooding

After landfall, Harvey is forecast to move inland perhaps 50 or 100 miles, and then it loses all steering currents for awhile. The most likely scenario is that after wobbling around this weekend, Harvey slowly begins to move to the northeast toward the greater Houston area. It’s center may move back over water, or remain over land, but eventually it should get pulled into a trough over the northeastern United States. (Last night I mentioned the slim possibility of the storm stalling out in the Rio Grande Valley, and while I’m not entirely ruling that out, it seems less likely with this morning’s model guidance).

All of this wobbling and slow movement and proximity to a warm source of moisture (the Gulf, and its bathwater-like temperatures in the upper 80s) will lead to very heavy rainfall and devastating flooding for much of the Texas coast and inland counties. We can’t say exactly where the heaviest rainfall will come (there may be some isolated areas that receive a Tropical Storm Allison-like 35 inches), but we can say with growing confidence that a large region will see 10 to 25 inches of rain between Friday and Wednesday.
The following map represents the best effort by expert forecasters at NOAA to predict where the heaviest rains will fall during that time frame, and indeed it includes much of the greater Houston area. I do not believe it is an exaggeration, nor does it over-hype the threat. Harvey presents a grave threat to the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Beaumont.

Rain accumulation forecast for now through Friday morning, Sept. 1. (NOAA)

Key takeaways

  • If you live along the central Texas coast heed evacuation warnings, make final preparations this morning, and prepare to endure what is likely to be the strongest hurricane to strike the region since Hurricane Celia, in 1970, or perhaps even Carla, in 1961.
  • For Houston, effects from Harvey’s landfall today and Saturday morning do not appear likely to be dangerous in terms of wind and surge. If you have to work, or make last minute preparations for flooding, there is still time.
  • The outer rain bands will bring precipitation to Houston today and Saturday, but as of now the forecast models show nothing too extreme through at least Saturday afternoon. This is likely the calm before the heavier rains move in later on Saturday night, and then in earnest on Sunday and Monday.
  • The timing and amounts of heavy rain in Houston are not precise. But be prepared for flooding, and tropical deluges from Sunday through Wednesday. Many roads will become impassable. Homes will be flooded. It will be pretty miserable for a lot of people.

We will update again before noon, today. Also, if you’re interested, I’ll be conducting a Facebook live event in conjunction with the Houston Chronicle at 11:30am. I also spoke with NPR’s David Greene early Friday on Morning Edition.

Posted at 6:10am CT on Friday by Eric

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Harvey Update as of 8pm on Thursday August 24, 2017

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in blog, Storm Warnings, storm water | 0 comments

From Space City Weather

As of 8:00pm CT tonight, a well-organized Hurricane Harvey is moving northwest, toward the Texas coast. It packed 85-mph winds, but forecasters at the National Hurricane Center still expect it to come ashore late Friday night, or Saturday morning as a major hurricane. The most likely landfall location is between Corpus Christi and Port O’Connor. The storm’s strong winds and storm surge, likely at least 10 to 12 feet above normal tide levels, will pack a punch along the central Texas coast. For people in low-lying areas from Corpus to Freeport, these are potentially life-threatening conditions, and I urge you to heed the warnings of the Corpus Christi National Weather Service office and local officials.

For tonight’s post I wanted to discuss the most likely scenario for immediate effects in Houston, and then reconsider the uncertainty about what comes next. The National Hurricane Center anticipates that sustained winds on Friday night and Saturday morning in Houston and Galveston have about an 80 percent chance of reaching 39 mph, or greater. I think that’s possible, and certainly chances are higher southwest of Houston, in places like Sugar Land. However, at this point the available model data indicates that winds will be manageable in the Houston region during Harvey’s landfall. This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that minimal tropical storm force-winds are something the region’s power grid should be able withstand. Mostly.

Harvey’s satellite appearance at 8pm CT Thursday. (NOAA)

In terms of rainfall, the picture is more grim. It still appears as though the Houston region will see manageable rainfall totals through most of Saturday. That is not to say it won’t rain hard at times, and streets may briefly flood. But for the most part I don’t expect mobility to be greatly impaired. If this forecast changes, we will of course be all over it.

Now, looking ahead to the period of Sunday through Wednesday, uncertainty in the track forecast reigns. We’ve hammered this point for a couple of days, but the point remains that we can’t be sure where the storm is going to go after it reaches the coast. It’s like putting a bowling ball down in the middle of an alley—where will it roll? Harvey is going to be something like that. And unfortunately, for us to really get a good, solid handle on rainfall, we ultimately need to know where the center is going to go. Perhaps the best way to handle this is to spitball some probabilities. So let’s discuss three different scenarios.

The Euro special

Odds: 40 percent. Earlier today we discussed the European model solution for Harvey, which brings the storm into the Texas coast, stalls it, then pulls it back over the Gulf of Mexico and eventually into southwestern Louisiana. Under such a scenario, depending upon the track, much of the Houston area would likely get 5 to 25 inches of rainfall, with the greater totals closer to the coast.

The wandering 59 special

Odds: 35 percent. This solution is favored by many members of the GFS model ensemble, in which Harvey comes inland, and wanders around Corpus Christi, and the rest of the Valley until Sunday or Monday. Then it moves up the Highway 59 corridor, into Houston, over Beaumont, and off into Louisiana. Such a scenario would likely bring 10 to 25 inches of rain to much of the Houston metro area, but totals might not necessarily be greatest along the coast.

Drowning in the Rio special

Odds: 25 percent. Not all of the GFS ensembles pull Harvey back to the north. Some stay in south Texas and peter out. NOAA’s new hurricane model, the HMON, has depicted such a scenario over the last few runs, too. The HMON forecasts that Harvey’s remnants burn themselves out in northern Mexico and southern Texas. Under this scenario Houston might get 5 to 10 inches of rain from Harvey—a lot of rain, but certainly manageable. If this happens, more than a few people will be mad at meteorologists for having stood in line at grocery stores today, and now what they heck are they going to do with all these Pop Tarts?

Key takeaways

  • A major hurricane is coming to the Central Texas coast. It will have bad consequences for that region. However the best available data as of Thursday night suggests the immediate impacts on Houston won’t be extreme.
  • The unanswered question is what happens to Harvey once it reaches the coast. Where will it go, and will it go fast enough? Houston’s rainfall totals over the next five days depend on this, and we just don’t know.
  • Big-time floods are coming to Texas. Certainly the Corpus Christi area and points immediately north and west of there will get too much rain. Flooding will spread to other parts of Texas too, quite possibly Houston. But right now we can’t say that for certain. As I’ve said, it’s either going to be pretty bad, or really really bad here.

We’ll have a comprehensive update early Friday morning.

Posted by Eric at 8:15pm CT on Thursday by Eric

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Harvey Is Now Poised To Strengthen…Maybe Even to Cat3

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in blog, Storm Warnings, storm water | 0 comments

From Space City Weather

Harvey nearly a hurricane: Updating the major threats to Texas

Before getting into the forecast, let me just say that Harvey remains an unpredictable system in terms of intensity before landfall, and especially its track after landfall. This creates considerable uncertainty in the forecast. What you’ll find below is our best attempt, but conditions will change, and so will the forecast. As always, we’ll remain on top of it as best we can—because like you, we’re making critical decisions about travel, our families, and our property.

Harvey has improved its satellite appearance markedly this morning, and a reconnaissance aircraft found the storm’s central pressure had dropped considerably. The system now has 65-mph winds, and as it passes over warm water there is little to slow down intensification of the system prior to landfall. Because the storm has gotten its act together, and still has about 36 hours over water, the National Hurricane Center has amped up its wind speed forecast considerably. Harvey is now anticipated to come ashore with 115-mph winds, just over the threshold of Category-3, or major hurricane status. Here’s the 10am CT track update from the hurricane center:


Official forecast track for Harvey at 10am CT.

Winds

Now that Harvey appears to be rapidly strengthening, we need to carefully consider the wind impacts of the storm. Winds are always highest on the right side of a hurricane, where the counter-clockwise rotation drives wind and storm surge inland for maximum effect. Therefore the location of the storm’s landfall is critical. Right now the hurricane center forecast predicts a landfall between Port Mansfield and just north of Matagorda. Such a landfall location translates to the following probabilities for sustained, tropical storm-force winds:


(National Hurricane Center)

For the greater Houston area, this translates to about a 70 percent chance of TS-force winds, 39 mph or greater. This probability has increased due to the strengthening of Harvey, and it would increase further if Harvey takes a more northerly track toward Matagorda. The current probability of hurricane-force winds in Houston and Galveston is presently less than 20 percent, so I’m hopeful we won’t see anything too extreme.

As for timing, we can expect these winds to arrive late Friday night or Saturday morning, but certainly both days will probably be gusty for the region. After Harvey moves inland on Saturday morning, the winds should slacken some over Houston.

Surge

As Harvey strengthens, it also becomes more capable of producing a significant storm surge, which is dependent upon both the size and intensity of a tropical system. The National Hurricane Center has posted a storm surge warning for the following areas of Texas. The greater Houston area is under a watch, which means storm surge flooding is possible. I think we can at least expect low-lying areas, including Bolivar Peninsula, to be threatened during the next 48 hours. Obviously, should Harvey takes a more northerly track, we’ll need to be more concerned about storm surge for the Houston area.


Storm surge warning area (pink) and watch area (purple). Houston is under a watch. (National Hurricane Center)

Rains

Long term, of course, inland rain and significant flooding remain the dominant concern for Texas, including the Houston area, as Harvey is expected to stall once inland. We’ve been reluctant to post rainfall forecasts from individual models, because some of the totals have been really extreme (and it’s best not to trust individual model runs). But now NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center has started to put out accumulated precipitation forecasts to reflect the threat between now and next Wednesday. Here’s their latest forecast for Houston:


Rain accumulation forecast for Thursday through Wednesday. (Weather Bell/NOAA)

And here’s the same forecast for the greater Rio Grande Valley area:


Rain accumulation forecast for Thursday through Wednesday. (Weather Bell/NOAA)

What you need to know is that these maps are far from gospel, and the forecast is likely going to change. But they’re nonetheless illustrative of the kind of very serious flooding threat that coast Texas faces over the next week. Also worth noting: Some areas will probably receive greater rainfall totals than those displayed on these maps.

Key takeaways:

  • Harvey is rapidly intensifying, and now poses a significant storm surge threat to the central Texas Gulf coast.
  • Tropical Storm force winds are possible in Houston on Friday night and Saturday morning
  • The strongest rains from Harvey probably won’t reach Houston until later on Saturday or Sunday
  • Although there’s considerable uncertainty still, most of the Texas coast, including the Houston-Galveston area, faces a significant flood threat over the next six days.

We will update again at around 2:30pm CT.

Posted at 10:30am CT on Thursday by Eric

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TS Harvey Update 6am 8/24/2017

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in blog, Storm Warnings, storm water | 0 comments

Harvey is now a Tropical Storm, located about 370 miles off the Texas coast, with 45 mph winds.  But as you can see from the visible radar image above, there is a distinct spin starting to form.  The chances of this becoming a hurricane are high, but that is not projected to be much more than a Cat 1.  The real problem is that the Cone of Uncertainty is showing this thing to make landfall Friday night or early in the hours of Saturday and then crawl to a stop just about.  It will slowly crawl up to the area between Corpus Christi and San Antonio and then hang out there for the next 24 hours almost stationary.  This is where the potential for flooding comes in.  As we get more updates, we will let you know!

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TD Harvey Update 6pm 8/23/2017

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in blog, Storm Warnings, storm water | 0 comments

The models are now more confirming of each other with calling out a late Friday to midday Saturday landfall of TD Harvey in the Corpus Christi to Matagorda area where it will stall out, likely spin back west and south a bit then head east/northeast. The slower moving it is, the more likely for inland flooding. While projected to be a Cat 1 hurricane when it makes landfall, the actual threat here is this storm’s slow moving nature that will lead to flooding all along the Gulf Coast. 

As a reminder, if you have the ability, clean and clear your property of any possible windborn items or debris as well as anything that could wash off of your site and clog up storm sewer drains or other pathways. If it is safe to do so during the rain, check to make sure “pinch points” or places of narrowing flow are free and clear. 

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TCEQ Issues Another Year-long Waiver for E-Reporting 

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in blog, Industrial, MSGP, permits, regulation, storm water | 0 comments

TCEQ Issues Another Year-long Waiver for E-Reporting 

The TCEQ has issued a 2nd year waiver to all TXR05 permittees. This after the EPA issued a request for all Discharge Monitoring Reports among other filings to be submitted and approved electronically. The TXR05 permit covers permit holders for select industrial activities, regardless of size or age of property. The permit runs in 5 year stints, the latest from August 2016 until August 2021. Anyone applying for coverage under this permit will be covered until the renewal in August 2021 when all permittees, regardless of date of application, will be required to submit a new Notice of Intent in order to stay covered under the new 5 year term. So it makes the most sense to apply as early in the term as possible. 

Once covered, there are regulations governing inspecting the site, laboratory samples, and filing reports to the TCEQ. For now, these will still be paper. But maybe by this time next year the STEERs online permit system of the TCEQ will be overhauled and able to handle the new e-filing requirements. 

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