BATON ROUGE, LA - Forecasters' worst fears have come to fruition in Southeast Texas with catastrophic flooding underway and worsening as a meandering Tropical Storm Harvey produces relentless rainfall.
The Houston area has seen the worst of it so far with 15 to 25 inches or more of rainfall just in the last 24 hours. In one location, an almost unheard of 9.92" of rain fell in just 90 minutes Saturday night.
The severity of the flooding was illustrated in a strongly worded "Civil Emergency Message" disseminated by emergency management officials around Houston early on Sunday morning.
The message urged residents in need of a shelter of last resort to get on the roof rather than going to the attic.
A dire situation in Southeast Texas is only expected to get worse in the coming days with much more rain expected. In fact, forecasters are warning an additional 1 to 2 feet of rain could fall in the next several days and that some isolated areas could see storm total rainfall near 50 inches by the time it ends.
It doesn't seem far-fetched to think that this could become Southeast Texas' Katrina when all is said and done.
Here in South Louisiana, the news has been much better, of course. A few areas picked up 1 to 2 inches of rain on Saturday, but rains have been very manageable. We continue to keep an eye on the projected path of Tropical Storm Harvey with the expectation that as it does start to track just a little farther east in the next couple of days, we may see a somewhat better chance of receiving locally heavy rainfall from Harvey's outer bands.
The 10 a.m. forecast track from the National Hurricane Center drifts Harvey toward the coast and shows some potential for it to move back into the northwest Gulf of Mexico before moving back inland over East Texas by the mid part of the week.
Regardless of the exact track, our focus will continue to be on the potential for locally heavy rainfall. The WAFB Storm Team is sticking with a projection of 4 to 8 inches of rain on average through the end of the week. Those totals are likely to be a little lower north of Baton Rouge and could go a little higher south of Baton Rouge. But we also want to emphasize that one well-placed rain band on any given day this week could easily dump quite a bit more rainfall.
Another threat that will extend into parts of South Louisiana is the potential for a few tornadoes. Several tornadoes were confirmed in western Louisiana and eastern Texas on Saturday and that potential may slowly inch in our direction over the next few
days as Harvey drifts eastward. The Storm Prediction Center has parts of Southeast Louisiana under a 'Marginal Risk' of severe weather for the next three days to cover that risk.
Finally, a check of local rivers shows that all are well below flood stage as of Sunday morning and forecast to remain below flood stage in the coming days. If we receive our projected 4 to 8 inches of rainfall through the week, the low-end of that range
likely wouldn't be a problem for our rivers while the higher end could start to cause some flooding. Anything more than that could start to cause more significant problems along the rivers.
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