Harvey is a Category 2 hurricane with 110-mph sustained winds this morning and is expected to intensify to a Category 3 hurricane with 120-mph sustained winds prior to landfall late tonight or very early tomorrow near Port Aransas.
Locally, Tropical Storm and Surge Warnings are in effect for Galveston County, along with a Flash Flood Watch. Heavy rains of more than an inch have already been reported over the County and wind gusts to 38-mph have occurred in passing squalls on Galveston Island. Currently, tides are running 2 feet above expected values at Pier 21 in Galveston and 2 ½ feet at Eagle Point on Galveston Bay. These values could increase to 4 feet or more even if the hurricane moves ashore on the projected path.
This morning’s forecast track projections suggest that Hurricane Harvey will move ashore just north of Corpus Christi, move slowly inland to near Beeville before stalling and then drift northeast towards the Houston area by Monday as a 40-mph tropical storm.
IF this scenario prevails, a weakened storm (wind-wise) will approach our area. However, the set-up favors possibly record-breaking rains through the weekend with amounts of 15-25 inches over Galveston County (and isolated amounts to 35 inches), with 10-15 inches likely in Harris County. Needless to say, those of you who remember Tropical Storm Allison in June, 2001 and Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979 are aware of the massive flooding that can occur when the bayous and streams overtop their banks.
The good news is that we are lucky in not receiving a direct hit from a Category 3, but the potential flood damage from a combination of torrential rains and elevated tide levels, unfortunately, may more than compensate for the projected lack of hurricane winds locally. My advice, especially if you live in a flood prone area, is to heed the advice from emergency management and the local National Weather Service office on what actions as this possibly historic event unfolds.