Hurricane Harvey hit the south coast of Texas late Friday as a Category 4 storm. This was enough of an event for the area but the main warnings, in the 24 hours leading up to landfall, had been about the amount of rain as the system looked set to stall over Texas for nearly a week. Even by Sunday 27th, there were still tornado warnings in force, torrential rain, and widespread severe flooding.
As Harvey hit land, the satellite and radar imagery was astonishing. A perfectly circular, large eye with the storm ominously edging over towns and cities; Corpus Christi to the south, near Rockport & Port O Connor and Victoria. Winds reached 130mph resulting in the inevitable wind damage. There had already been mandatory evacuations on top of the advice to get away previously.Scenes of long one way tailbacks looked like something out of a movie. Houston hadn't been in this region, but now, with the persistent rain and flooding, more people have been told to leave eastern Texas. There are other worries with mass evacuations, that much one way traffic, often driven by fear can lead to even more deaths and accidents. So there has been a different emphasis this time.
"EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS HAVE REQUESTED THAT PEOPLE ESCAPING FLOOD WATERS AS A LAST RESORT DO NOT STAY IN THE ATTIC. IF HIGHEST FLOOR OF YOUR HOME BECOMES DANGEROUS... GET ON THE ROOF. CALL 911 FOR HELP AND STAY ON THE LINE UNTIL ANSWERED." Civil Emergency message Houston/Galveston area
For some areas, hit by hurricane winds, along the south coast, the worst weather has now past, and people can return. For others, like in Houston (the US 4th largest city), things could still get worse from the flooding, and it is still windy.
Tropical Storm Harvey is producing catastrophic and life-threatening flooding. Flash flood emergencies are in effect for southeastern Texas. Harvey is centered at 7 a.m. CDT about 45 miles (70 km) west-northwest of Victoria. A slow southeastward to east-southeastward motion is expected over the next couple of days. On the forecast track, the center will remain inland or move very near the coast of southeastern Texas through Monday. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph with higher gusts. NHC Sunday 27th
Isolated totals of 40" rain are forecast during this week that's over 1000mm of rain, what Cardiff would receive on average in a year. There is mention of 50" in places (1270mm) The only record close to this here, is the highest ever monthly rainfall in Dec 2015 for a station up Snowdon, so on top of one of the highest peaks in the UK in one of our wettest winters.
There are still storm surge warnings, dangerous surf and life threatening rip currents. The storm continues to meander over SE Texas with historic rainfall totals. The circulation is close enough to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and could move back out over the sea at the beginning of the week, sustaining itself and producing even more rain.
Eventually, it will fade away inland. This is not a storm which will affect the UK, as some do when they move up the eastern seaboard of the US. It is this near stationary lurking over Texas, and continual feed of energy from the sea, which is leading to the seemingly never ending rains and so the catastrophic flooding.
Then the cleanup and recovery will take place. The wind and flood damage, loss of lives, displaced/homeless people. Risk of disease, lack of clean water and sanitation. Damage to property and looting. Businesses wrecked, oil production had already been curtailed, but that has the resources to recover quickly. Lurking alligators and lost pets. The mental, financial and emotional trauma over months, maybe years
Harvey's rainfall will go down in history and although people were well warned about this hurricane, there is very little that people can do. As a Cat 4 hurricane hits your town and those winds and that rain arrives, there is no arguing with Mother Nature, which I think was in the minds of many as we in the UK went to sleep on Friday night, never mind those waiting in the US.
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