Menu Close

Harvey Update #2

Bob’s Harvey Update #2
August 25, 2017, 7:30 a.m

I’ve been going through the updates this morning and the data is only a little more organized than yesterday. Two things stand out: (1) Harvey’s track to landfall is fairly clear, and the impact on our area should be tolerable. (2) Harvey’s track after landfall is very likely to bring us a ton of rain over three or four days.

(1) Harvey strengthened a little bit over night, it is poised to strengthen considerably between now and landfall. It probably goes ashore in the early hourse of Saturday near Port Aransas as a category 3. For us (the upper Gulf Coast and Galveston Bay) this means a modest storm surge of two to four feet. Further inland (quoting Eric Berger on Space City Weather) “the effects from the immediate landfall of Hurricane Harvey will be relatively modest. As we’ve discussed, winds Friday night and Saturday morning should be manageable, although some areas may briefly see some tropical storm-force winds. The power grid is designed to withstand these conditions—so hopefully most of us will keep the lights on.” We are already in some of the outer rain bands, but these should be intermittent for about the next 36 hours.

My plan is to go to work, do some ‘just-in-case’ organizing around the church, make sure we’re ready for Sunday if that happens, and then come home.

(2) (Eric Berger) “After landfall, Harvey is forecast to move inland perhaps 50 or 100 miles, and then it loses all steering currents for awhile. The most likely scenario is that after wobbling around this weekend, Harvey slowly begins to move to the northeast toward the greater Houston area. It’s center may move back over water, or remain over land, but eventually it should get pulled into a trough over the northeastern United States. . . . All of this wobbling and slow movement and proximity to a warm source of moisture (the Gulf, and its bathwater-like temperatures in the upper 80s) will lead to very heavy rainfall and devastating flooding for much of the Texas coast and inland counties. We can’t say exactly where the heaviest rainfall will come (there may be some isolated areas that receive a Tropical Storm Allison-like 35 inches), but we can say with growing confidence that a large region will see 10 to 25 inches of rain between Friday and Wednesday.”

So, that’s not good. But for those who have not been on the Gulf Coast that long, let me point out that much of our inland flooding comes when the rainfall rates (rather than the rainfall totals) are high. In other words, 20 inches over four days, while bad, is not as bad as 20 inches over, say 12 hours (Alvin, in 1979, had 42 inches in 24 hours). I’m not trying to be too optimistic, but if your house doesn’t have a record of flooding (say in 1979, Alicia, Alison or Ike), it may not flood this time either.

My plans: hunker down. I recommend looking at your own flooding history – ask your neighbors if you haven’t lived there long – and making a decision today if you feel the need to leave. Moving around in a storm is way less safe than hunkering down. If you do have to drive, I don’t need to tell you not to drive into standing water. But I will anyway: if you can’t see the curbs or the centerline, do not drive there.

Church plans: Unless someone really objects, I’d rather not make decisions about Sunday until tomorrow (Saturday). My sense is that we’ll have to cancel, but I don’t see any need to make that decision real soon. It’s not like we’re going to have many visitors this weekend! Thoughts?

By the way, Mark Lewis from EFCA Crisis Response has been in touch. They are ready to help when needed. He would like to see pictures of the storm and its effects as we go along, so if anyone wants to send me pictures, I’ll forward them to him.

All updates from others are welcome!