Hurricane Harvey continues to strengthen in the northwestern gulf. The National Hurricane Center still expects the hurricane to reach high end category 3 status before landfall at 1 a.m. Saturday.
Harvey, after a lull in rapid intensification on Thursday night, has once again begun to deepen at a rapid pace. In fact as of this entry, Harvey is now the exact same strength as Ike when it made landfall in Galveston in September 2008. Unlike Ike, Harvey has almost another full day over 87° water with almost perfect atmospheric conditions.
As of 12 p.m.:
Winds: 110 mph
Movement: NW 10 mph
Pressure: 947 mb and falling
From the National Hurricane Center:
"Harvey is expected to be a major hurricane at landfall, bringing life-threatening storm surge, rainfall and wind hazards to portions of the Texas coast. Preparations to protect life and property should be completed Friday morning, as tropical-storm-force winds will first arrive in the hurricane and storm surge warning areas later today."
Landfall is expected at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
Watches and Warnings:
Storm Surge Warning: Port Mansfield to High Island, Texas
Hurricane Warning: Port Mansfield to Sargent, Texas (includes Matagorda County)
Tropical Storm Warning: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty and Waller counties.
Flood Watch: central and southern counties including most of metro Houston.
According to the National Weather Service: "a devastating, life-threatening flooding event expected from a prolonged rain event from Hurricane Harvey."
Hurricane conditions ARE NOT EXPECTED in the City of Houston or surrounding areas. The hurricane warning is for Matagorda county, where a mandatory evacuation is in effect county wide, and areas southwest of there.
The biggest threat from Harvey is and has always been the significant flood threat. Rainfall will fall into extreme, if not historical amounts.
Current projections from the Weather Prediction Center, local forecast offices and various computer models indicate 15 to 25 inches of rain will fall over the area with isolated amounts topping 30 inches. That's Allison-style rainfall.
Areas along area creeks, bayous and rivers, especially those that regularly flood, should be moving furniture or valuables to higher ground or to the second floor of the residence. Bayous and creeks that come to mind are Brays, Sims, Buffalo, White Oak and Greens Bayou. Other area creeks like Cypress and Spring Creek's need to be closely watched.
The first feeder bands of Harvey have now arrived and the rain will only begin the process of saturating the ground.
This tropical system will be around for many days -- with some computer models showing this over east Texas one week from today (Friday).
Winds are not expected to be strong enough to cause damage although gusts that exceed 30 mph could push over some trees that are in saturated soil. With some trees coming down, isolated to scattered power outages can be expected.
Tornadoes will also be possible with any landfalling feeder bands into the area. These tornadoes form quickly and often without warning. Keep up-to-date with the latest information via khou.com and khou.com/hurricanes.
Again, this is not a hurricane situation for the Houston area.
The outer bands of Harvey have already arrived and dropping blinding rain in portions of Brazoria and Gavleston counties. In fact radar estimates as high as 3 inches per hour have been observed.
Expect the rain to be with us from now on. I don't see much in the way of a break between now and the next 5 to 7 days. We've had no reports of flooding at this time. There will likely be lulls in the rain or periodic breaks as the feeder bands rotate through the area but don't be fooled. More heavy rain is likely on the way in short order.
We've had lots of questions as to whether it is safe or not to head to work today. The answer is yes. We are not expecting flooding conditions today. Our problems begin Saturday night into Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
So keep the umbrellas handy.
First Areas Likely to Flood:
Darby Douglas and I are both longtime Houstonians. Anecdotally speaking, the first areas to see flooding are usually the feeder roads along the North Freeway between Shephard and the North Loop. However it really depends on where the rain falls.
If you come across water covering a road, DO NOT attempt to cross through. Turn around, don't drown.