Well everyone, Harvey’s first rain-bands have arrived and it looks like its almost show time. Here’s where things stand.
Track – The track of the eye for landfall remains unchanged. It appears as though the Rockport/Port Lavaca area is going to be the bulls-eye when Harvey comes ashore around midnight tonight. If you have friends or family in that area that have not left yet or decided to stay give them one more call and try to convince them otherwise. This is going to be a benchmark storm for that area and I will re-iterate what I have heard many other meteorologists say – “life down there will now be measured as either before Harvey or after Harvey.
Wind – For our purposes in Houston the wind forecast has become slightly more concerning for purposes of power, but definitely not a major concern for damage. The storm has continued to grow and thus expand its wind field. As of now it looks like southern parts of the area could see tropical storm force (above 40 mph) winds and gusts as soon as tonight. As Harvey winds down inland the winds will back off a bit. However, the consensus thinking now is that by Monday Harvey will either move back off-shore or close enough to the water to slow its weakening or possibly begin strengthening slightly again . It will the begin a trek to the northeast and the center could be in our general area by late Tuesday or Wednesday. As it gets closer winds could begin to pick up again to tropical storm force during that time with stronger winds being closer to the coast. There is a chance Harvey could re-strengthen into a minimal hurricane if it is off-shore which would possibly give Galveston and nearby areas hurricane conditions on Wednesday. That part of the forecast is very uncertain but it is a possibility to at least be aware of. Winds should die back down as the storm moves off to the north east by Thursday.
Rain – Rain has already started with Harvey’s outer feeder bands crossing our area. Rain, while heavy at times, should be manageable today and tonight. The main event for rain will probably not begin until Saturday afternoon or Sunday, and will continue into potentially Wednesday. There may be breaks in the rain here and there during that period but accumulations will start to cause problems as time goes on. Models are still showing a widespread 10-15 inches with spots over 25 inches, and some reaching 30+ making the flooding outlook unchanged. A number of forecasting agencies have had to add new colors to their rainfall scales as some the projected totals are simply off the charts. Again though, those extreme areas will be isolated. Areas that get higher amounts will be nearly impossible to determine until it starts happening so it is best to prepare as though you will be in one of those spots.
Tornadoes – I know this can be a scary topic but often land falling hurricanes spawn tornadoes on their northeast side, which is where we will be. These tornadoes are typically fairly small, but they could still be enough to break tree branches and toss around loose items outside. Just be sure you have a way to get a tornado warning in the event it happens.
What happens after Harvey makes landfall- The scenario that forecasts seem to be locking in on is Harvey remaining fairly stationary near its landfall point and then begin moving Monday afternoon/evening. As I mentioned above it could stay inland of the coast and drift northeast or it could drift a little further out over the water before beginning its slow slog to the northeast. Both of these scenarios bring us heavy rain. The difference between the 2 scenarios will probably lie in how much wind we get. If it stays inland the winds would be less, if it goes back over water winds could be higher. Again though, in Houston they would likely remain in the 35-50 mph range, but possibly higher on the immediate coast (ie. Galveston).
Power – I am a bit more concerned about power than I was yesterday just because of the potential long duration of winds. The winds won’t be extreme but they will last for a number of days which can stress the system. Also, if flooding becomes a major issue in your area the city could cut the power to prevent fires and electrocution in flooded homes. It is best to be prepared for a power outage. I would say the most likely times for them to occur would be Monday night thru Wednesday, though that is not to say power can’t go out before that.
Preparations- As I mentioned yesterday be prepared to remain in one place for at least 4 days to be on the safe side. Meaning have all of the food, water, medicine, batteries and other supplies you could possibly need. If you are in an evacuation zone along the coast please do so. As we unfortunately learned in Ike, if you stay you may not be able to change your mind later or be rescued as routes in and out may be impassable due to storm surge. For Houston and inland areas it looks as though travel will become difficult or impossible from Saturday afternoon/evening to Wednesday.
I will try to post again later today with my personal thoughts on the situation, aside from these nitty gritty details of where, when, and how much.
As always you can tweet to me or follow me @stephenuzick.