Rains anticipated locally following Harvey landfall

August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey is seen in the Texas Gulf Coast, U.S., in this NOAA GOES satellite image on August 24, 2017. NOAA/Handout via Reuters THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.

Situated more than 500 miles from the projected target of landfall, it’s unlikely Terry County residents will observe a direct impact from Hurricane Harvey.

However, forecasters with the National Weather Service aren’t counting out the possibility of increased rainfall chances within the Permian Basin and South Plains coverage areas, which include Terry County.

As of presstime Friday, rain chances ranging from 20-to-30 percent were forecast for the immediate area through Sunday, with the source of those showers anticipated to come from the southwestern monsoonal flow pattern taking place in the southwestern U.S. and impacts weather patterns as far east as the Texas-New Mexico state line.

“We could get some rainfall from (Hurricane Harvey), but it will all depend on how well the storm holds together when it makes landfall and the weather pattern in our region,” said Abigail Duval, a meteorologist with the Midland regional office of the National Weather Service on Friday morning.

Landfall for Hurricane Harvey, which was classified as being a strong “Category 2 Hurricane” as of presstime Friday, was anticipated to occur between Corpus Christi and Victoria communities either late Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

Duval added the Midland NWS office would continue to monitor both local and Hurricane Harvey weather patterns to provide updated weather forecasts for over the weekend.

“Right now, (the hurricane’s landfall) is too far out timewise to make any firm predictions.”

According to the NWS’ Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., the West Texas area — including the South Plains and Permian Basin region — is anticipated to receive less than an inch of rainfall through Wednesday (Aug. 30).

A far cry from Hurricane Harvey’s projected impact zone, where 24-to-30 inches of rainfall is anticipated along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Conditions were deteriorating along Texas’s Gulf Coast on Friday as Hurricane Harvey strengthened and slowly moved toward the state, with forecasters warning that evacuations and preparations “should be rushed to completion.”

According to a Friday morning Associated Press story, millions of people were bracing for a prolonged battering from the hurricane, which could be the fiercest such storm to hit the U.S. in nearly a dozen years. Forecasters labeled Harvey a “life-threatening storm” that posed a “grave risk,” saying it could swamp several counties more than 100 miles inland.

Fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, just shy of the benchmark for a Category 3 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told “Good Morning America” early Friday that Harvey was a “very serious” threat and that the window for evacuating was quickly closing.

“Texas is about to get hit by a major hurricane,” Long said. “We’re going to see significant rainfall over the next three days. There’s going to be damage.”

The center reports the storm has the potential to produce winds hitting 125 mph and storm surges of 12 feet.

“We’re forecasting continuing intensification right up until landfall,” National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.
Harvey grew quickly Thursday from a tropical depression into a Category 1 hurricane, and then Category 2 hurricane early Friday. The last storm to reach Category 3 hit the U.S. was Hurricane Wilma in October 2005 in Florida.

Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled New York and New Jersey in 2012, never had the high winds and had lost tropical status by the time it struck. But it was devastating without formally being called a major hurricane.

All seven Texas counties on the coast from Corpus Christi to the western end of Galveston Island have ordered mandatory evacuations of tens of thousands of residents from all low-lying areas. Officials in four counties ordered full evacuations and warned there was no guarantee of rescue for people staying behind.

Voluntary evacuations have been urged for Corpus Christi and for the Bolivar Peninsula, a sand spit near Galveston where many homes were washed away by the storm surge of Hurricane Ike in 2008.

On Thursday, Texas officials expressed concern that not as many people are evacuating compared with previous storms.

“A lot of people are taking this storm for granted thinking it may not pose much of a danger to them,” Gov. Greg Abbott told Houston television station KPRC. “Please heed warnings and evacuate as soon as possible.”

Abbott has activated about 700 members of the state National Guard ahead of Harvey making landfall.

Harvey’s effect is expected to be broad: The hurricane center said large storm surges could be expected as far north as Morgan City, Louisiana, some 400 miles away from the anticipated landfall.

And once it comes ashore, the storm is expected to stall, dumping copious amounts of rain for days in areas like flood-prone Houston, the nation’s fourth most-populous city, and San Antonio.

State transportation officials were considering when to turn all evacuation routes from coastal areas into one-way traffic arteries headed inland.

John Barton, a former deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, predicted state officials will do so before the storm hits.

But storms change paths, and if contraflow starts too early, supplies such as extra gasoline needed to support impacted areas can’t get in, he said.

Harvey would be the first significant hurricane to hit Texas since Ike in September 2008 brought winds of 110 mph (177 kph) to the Galveston and Houston areas, inflicting $22 billion in damage. It would be the first big storm along the middle Texas coast since Hurricane Claudette in 2003 caused $180 million in damage.

It’s taking aim at the same vicinity as Hurricane Carla, the largest Texas hurricane on record. Carla came ashore in 1961 with wind gusts estimated at 175 mph and inflicted more than $300 million in damage. The storm killed 34 people and forced about 250,000 people to evacuate.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump was “briefed and will continue to be updated as the storm progresses.”

In Galveston, where a 1900 hurricane went down as the worst in U.S. history, City Manager Brian Maxwell said he was anticipating street flooding and higher-than-normal tides.

“Obviously being on an island, everybody around here is kind of used to it.”

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