Tropical Storm Warning, Flood Watch for Inland Harris County

7/7/24, 10:30 AM – The National Weather Service (NWS) and FEMA have issued a tropical storm warning that includes Houston, Kingwood and Spring.

Beryl is moving closer to the Texas Coast and turning a little more northward. Although it has not yet re-intensified into a hurricane, the National Hurricane Center predicts it will, and that it could even turn into a Category 2 before landfall. The center will likely pass near the west side of Houston.

NWS and FEMA have also issued a flood watch that will last until 7AM on Tuesday, July 9. It includes most of SE Texas.

Beryl position at 8:30 AM CDT.  A turn toward the NNW and N is likely today before Beryl reaches the coast.

Tropical Storm Force Winds Expected in North Houston Tonight

Tropical storm force winds could arrive this evening. The high winds will spread inland toward the I-10 corridor by early Monday morning. They should reach the HWY 105 corridor by sunrise Monday.

So authorities urge you to finish hurricane prep as soon as possible.

Re-Intensification into Hurricane Possible

According to Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner, “Beryl is starting to move into more favorable conditions for development and if/when an inner core forms…more rapid intensification will be possible.”

NHC forecasts that Beryl will make landfall at 85mph. However, they also say that winds could reach 100mph.

In inland Harris County, winds could average 45-55 MPH with gusts to 80 MPH.

“There remains the potential for fairly significant intensification of Beryl in the last 12 hours prior to landfall.”

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist

Prolonged Power Outages Predicted

Lindner warns the public to be prepared for extended power outages. Widespread power outages are now likely over a large part of the area on Monday.

Downed trees and tree limbs as well as damage to roofs, windows, etc. will all be possible.

Centerpoint issued a press release saying that it is already mobilizing crews.

All outdoor objects should be safely secured by this evening in the hurricane and tropical storm warning areas.

Tropical storm force winds will reach the coast this evening. They will spread inland toward the I-10 corridor by early Monday morning and reach the HWY 105 corridor by sunrise Monday.

Excessive Rainfall and Flooding Potential

Widespread rainfall amounts of 5-10 inches are likely along and to the right of the track of Beryl, with isolated higher amounts under bands where training occurs. Banding may continue into Monday night and possibly Tuesday.

The heaviest rainfall will likely be west of I-45 on Monday. High rainfall rates in bands will produce urban flooding and rapid rises on area creeks and bayous.

Some flooding of creeks, bayous and rivers will be possible with the forecasted rainfall. River responses will continue into mid- to late week.

FEMA’s flood watch lasts through Tuesday morning. It says, “Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations. Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Flooding may occur in poor drainage and urban areas.”

Expect street flooding, as well as rises along area rivers, creeks, streams, and bayous.

Other Dangers Near Coast

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) cautions that there is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation along the coast of Texas from the north entrance to the Padre Island National Seashore to Sabine Pass. That includes Matagorda Bay and Galveston Bay. Residents in those areas should follow any advice given by local officials and follow evacuation orders.

Expect 4-6 feet of surge in Matagorda Bay and 3-5 feet in Galveston Bay.

NHC also say that rip currents will cause life-threatening beach conditions through Monday across much of the Gulf Coast. Beachgoers should heed warning flags and the advice of lifeguards and local officials before venturing into the water.

Finally, NHC says that a few tornadoes could occur along the middle and upper Texas Coast through tonight, and across eastern Texas and western Louisiana on Monday.

Lake Report

At this moment, Lake Houston is releasing 9,626 CFS…the most the lake’s old gates can release at one time.

Lake Conroe is not pre-releasing any water; the lake is currently 9 inches below its normal level. The SJRA’s models predict that should be enough to handle the expected rainfall north of the lake. Let’s hope they are right.

For the Most Up-to-the-Minute Information,..

Monitor what’s happening near you on the Harris County Flood Warning System.

Track the status of the storm at the National Hurricane Center website.

The National Weather Service is the most reliable source for local weather information and warnings. It also predicts when flood peaks will arrive.

To monitor the status of Lake Conroe levels/releases, visit the San Jacinto River Authority website.

To monitor the status of Lake Houston levels/releases, visit the Coastal Water Authority website.

Posted by Bob Rehak at 10AM on 7/7/24

2504 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Beryl Update, Saturday AM

7/6/24 – As of 7 AM on Saturday morning, Beryl was centered in the Gulf of Mexico. Once a powerful Cat 5 hurricane, the storm emerged from its trek across the Yucatan as a tropical storm. However, it will likely re-intensify into a hurricane just before making landfall. The storm is about to enter an area of low wind sheer and high water temperatures.

Likely Landfall Near Matagorda Bay

According to the National Hurricane Center, Beryl will most likely come ashore between Matagorda Bay and Corpus Christi. But all of Houston is now in the cone of uncertainty. That means we have an equal chance of taking a direct hit from the storm.

Heavy Rain Threat

Hurricane watches and storm surge warnings are up for most of the Texas Coast up to High Island. But the most likely impact in the Lake Houston Area will be heavy rains. At this hour, the National Weather Service predicts 4-8 inches. But Jeff Lindner, the Harris County Meteorologist warned that isolated totals up to 15 inches are possible. That’s as much as the area north of us received in the early May flood of this year.

Overall, NWS says we have a slight to moderate risk for excessive rainfall in the next five days.

Flash Flood Threat

Arrival Time in Houston Area

We should begin to feel the effects of the storm Sunday evening.

Rain from the storm could linger for a day or two as Beryl becomes a tropical depression and the center of the storm curves north of us before heading to the northeast.

Inundation Areas

NOAA issued this map for Harris County. It shows possible areas of inundation. NOAA urged people in affected areas to follow evacuation warnings.

Lakes Not Being Lowered at this Hour

At this hour (9AM Saturday), the SJRA is not lowering Lake Conroe. Nor is the Coastal Water Authority lowering Lake Houston. However, the City of Houston did issue a warning yesterday afternoon that it might lower Lake Houston.

The good news: there’s little chance that we will experience tropical storm force winds this far north.

For the Latest Updates

For the latest watches and warnings associated with Beryl, consult the National Hurricane Center website. They update it every few hours. And the next few hours will be critical. There’s still a chance that the storm could shift more toward Houston.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/6/24 based on information from NHC, NWS and Harris County.

2503 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Where HCFCD Spending Goes

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) spending data obtained via a Freedom of Information Act Request shows that countywide:

  • Spending now tops $2 billion since Hurricane Harvey back in 2017
  • It modestly rebounded between the first and second quarters of this year
  • More money is now going to land acquisition and construction compared to other phases of the project lifecycle, while less money is going to upfront studies
  • On a per watershed basis, watersheds with a majority of Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) residents still get far more than those with a minority of LMI residents.
  • Spending in the San Jacinto Watershed continues to lag despite high flood risk
  • Spending has fallen off a cliff in some watersheds.

For details, see below.

Modest Rebound Compared to 1Q24

The chart below shows HCFCD spending in 27 quarters since Hurricane Harvey. It shows a dramatic uptick between 2018 and 2021, followed by an even more dramatic decline through the first quarter of 2023. Since then, spending has averaged slightly more than $60 million per quarter, about half of the peak in 2021.

What accounts for the lower totals recently?

  • Changes in leadership and personnel turnover at HCFCD
  • Restructuring at HCFCD
  • Numerous changes in “equity” allocation formulas that required reprioritization of projects
  • Lengthy delays at Harris County Community Services involving more than $750 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.
  • COVID
  • Inflation during COVID forcing a re-evaluation of the Bond project list

The 2018 Flood Bond was considered a 10-year project. We are now almost 6 years into the bond, which was approved on the first anniversary of Harvey, but the money is only about 40% spent. That means projects are moving slower than originally anticipated. And that gives inflation a chance to gobble up a higher percentage of them.

More Money Now Going to Land Acquisition and Construction

On a positive note, more projects are moving off the drawing boards and into construction. You can see this trend most clearly by comparing two pie charts that show spending broken down by project phase. The first shows spending since Harvey and the second shows spending during the last quarter.

Looking back at the last 27 quarters, HCFCD spent 76% of its funds on right-of-way acquisition and construction. But during the last quarter, those combined percentages jumped to 85% – up 9%.

Meanwhile, feasibility studies and preliminary engineering reviews fell from 8% to 3% during the comparable periods.

Perhaps we’re starting to mitigate more than ruminate.

Since Harvey
During second quarter this year

The following table may make it easier for you to compare percentages if you are viewing this on a phone.

Spending in Watersheds with Majority LMI Populations

The percentage of LMI residents in a watershed helps determine eligibility for flood-mitigation grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Harris County has 23 watersheds. Of those, 8 have a majority of LMI residents.

Regardless, since Harvey, those 8 received almost as much money as the other 15 put together.

Since Harvey

Looking only at the last quarter, that trend has moderated somewhat.

Second quarter this year only

But on a per watershed basis, the 8 LMI watersheds still each receive an average of 5.5% of the budget. Meanwhile, the 15 other watersheds each receive an average of 3.7%.

This is largely a function of the weighting given to LMI-majority projects in Harris County’s equity prioritization project scoring formula.

Spending by Watershed: A Study in Extremes

Comparing bar graphs of spending by watershed shows extreme differences between the highs and lows that are getting wider.

Since Harvey, difference between high and low equaled 100 to 1.

Note also the disappearance of the middle ground.

During second quarter, difference between high and low equaled 375 to 1.

During the second quarter, the entire San Jacinto Watershed – the county’s largest – received less than $400,000 of support…while moving up from 13th place to 11th.

Harris County watersheds in the upper San Jacinto River Basin include Spring, Cypress, Willow, Little Cypress, Luce and San Jacinto. They all funnel through the Lake Houston Area.

Since Harvey, they have received about 20% of HCFCD spending. But they drain an area about 50% larger than where the rest of the other 80% of the money went.

And as we saw in May, that can have a huge impact on flood damage.

From the San Jacinto River Basin Master drainage study.

I wish HCFCD spending flowed to the Lake Houston Area as fast as the water.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/5/2024

2502 Days since Hurricane Harvey

How May 2024 Flood Compared to Harvey

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) briefed the County’s Community Resilience Flood Task Force on how the extent of the May 2024 flood compared to Hurricane Harvey. In places, inundation matched Harvey. And in others it came close or fell short.

See the inundation map below. In my opinion, it dramatizes three things:

  • Serious flooding can happen any month of the year in the Houston region.
  • Flooding can happen anywhere that rain falls.
  • Flood-mitigation measures make a huge difference.
Inundation map from HCFCD comparing Harvey with May 2024 floods and evacuation zones.

Anytime

As the map above shows, major rain can fall outside of a hurricane season. In fact, May is usually the third wettest month of the year in Houston, exceeded only by June and October.

Of seven major storms to strike this area since 2016, four have happened outside of hurricane season.

Anywhere

The worst rainfall in the early May floods happened at the very top of the San Jacinto river basin in the upper portions of the East and West Forks. Parts of those watersheds received almost 20 inches of rain.

In Huntsville, Harvey dumped only 2 more inches of rain than a training band of thunderstorms in May 2024. The map above shows the results.

Cypress, Spring and Lake Creeks, which originate on the west side, received roughly a quarter to a third of the rain that fell to the north during early May.

Rainfall totals for 8 days before May 6, 2024. Compare 18.4 at top of map to smaller totals farther south. From Harris County Flood Warning System.

However, during Harvey, the rainfall distribution was the opposite of the map above. Huntsville received about 17 inches while areas to the south received more than 40.

Flood-Mitigation Measures

The inundation map above shows the importance of another location-related variable: upstream stormwater detention. Note how much more blue you see on the West Fork than on the East Fork which is predominantly green. The West Fork has a dam at Lake Conroe which partially blocked the heaviest flows. The East Fork has no dams.

But the East Fork and Luce Bayou do have the sprawling Colony Ridge Development. And Colony Ridge, especially the first 12,000 acres, has only a minuscule amount of stormwater detention. The development is now 50% larger than Manhattan.

Development usually increases the speed and volume of runoff. Developers normally use detention basins to limit post-development runoff to pre-development rates, so that they don’t increase flooding.

But for the most part, that didn’t happen in Colony Ridge. And that contributed to flooding downstream.

The inundation map above should be a wakeup call. Of 16 major flood-mitigation projects identified in the San Jacinto River Basin Master Drainage Study, not one has even gotten to the drawing boards, much less off them – after four years.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/3/24

2500 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Beryl Becomes Earliest Cat 5 Hurricane Ever

7/2/24 – Beryl has become an incredibly intense hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 165 MPH and a central pressure of 935mb. See this Infrared Satellite Loop at Tropical Tidbits. This is an unprecedented hurricane event for July.

According to Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner, Beryl is the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record since 1851. It beats out hurricane Emily (2005), which became a Category 5 on July 17.

Beryl is now moving through the central Caribbean Sea toward Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Status Overview as of 8 AM 7/2/24

Based on NOAA aircraft data, hurricane force winds (75mph) extend outward 40 miles from the center. Tropical storm force winds (40mph) extend outward 125 miles from the center.

Beryl is moving toward the west-northwest near 22 mph.

On the forecast track, the center of Beryl will move quickly across the southeastern and central Caribbean Sea today. It should pass near Jamaica on Wednesday and the Cayman Islands on Thursday.

Weakening should begin later today, but Beryl is still expected to be near major hurricane intensity as it passes Jamaica and the Caymans.

Intensity Forecast Uncertain

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) cautions that Beryl’s intensity forecast is rather uncertain. Model guidance indicates that the hurricane will begin to weaken later today as Beryl encounters moderate-to-strong vertical wind shear. Later on, factors such as:

  • Possible interaction with the Jamaican elevated terrain
  • Dry air intrusions
  • Structure of the vertical wind shear

…will all play a role in the rate of weakening.

As Beryl approaches the Yucatan, models show quite a wide range of solutions – from a strong tropical storm to a major hurricane. However, the NHC forecast shows Beryl reaching the Yucatan as a hurricane in about 72 hours and emerging as a tropical storm into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday.

Track Shifted North

Beryl has tracked slightly north of predictions during the last 12 hours. This is likely due to the much stronger intensity of the hurricane.

Overall the direction has been trending north over the last 24 hours. Beryl is being steered by a strong high pressure ridge to the north. A W to WNW motion through the next 72 hours is likely. That will likely bring core of the hurricane to the eastern Yucatan early Friday morning.

Beryl will cross into the southern Gulf of Mexico by early this weekend. At that time, the current ridge of high pressure over the southern plains will be breaking down and moving east. Low pressure should replace it, pulling Beryl a little more to north, compared to the current track.

However, there is also uncertainty with the track in the Gulf of Mexico. It is difficult to tell how organized Beryl will be when it emerges from the Yucatan. It is also difficult to predict how quickly the southern plains high will break down.

Such factors also will affect the forward speed of the hurricane.  

Due to Beryl’s high forward speed, it could drop a foot of rain on Jamaica. But as it slows in the Gulf…

Lindner urges people along the Texas and Louisiana coast to monitor Beryl’s progress closely. NHC is now updating information on Beryl every few hours on this page.

For those who need a refresher course in hurricane preparation, ReduceFlooding’s Links page contains advice from 19 authoritative sources.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/2/24

2499 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Third Named Storm Puts 2024 Hurricane Season a Month Ahead

7/1/24. – Last night, Tropical Storm Chris became the third named storm of the 2024 hurricane season. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the third named storm usually doesn’t happen until August. That puts the current hurricane season well ahead of the 30-year average for the Atlantic Basin.

Climatology Data from NHC

Data from 1991 through 2020 indicates we usually have one named storm in June and one in July before the Atlantic season heats up in August, September and October. Then we’re back to one in November.

From https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/

However, the NHC and a variety of academic and commercial forecasters predicted an extremely active 2024 hurricane season because of high sea surface temperatures and low wind shear associated with the developing La Niña.

Tropical Storm Alberto has already come and gone. It dissipated into the Bay of Campeche last month. But we are now into July.

3 Areas of Interest Currently in Atlantic

At the moment, we have three areas of interest in the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Chris Dissipating

The remnants of Chris are currently moving inland over Mexico.

Hurricane Beryl Nearing High End of Cat 4

The eye of Beryl began crossing the Windward Islands this morning. A hurricane hunter aircraft measured 150 MPH sustained winds at 11:10 AM as Beryl made landfall on Carriacou Island.

150 MPH puts Beryl near the top of Cat 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale that predicts wind damage. Category 4 goes from 130 MPH to 156 MPH.

NHC advises that in a Cat 4 storm “Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

However, Beryl is likely to encounter some wind shear in the Caribbean that will slow it down. The latest advisory from NHC predicts Beryl will weaken into a tropical storm before crossing the Yucatan and entering the Gulf on Saturday. See below.

Meanwhile NHC has urged island residents to shelter in place and not venture out during what it describes as “life-threatening conditions.”

Central Atlantic Still Disturbed

A third disturbance is still out in the central, tropical Atlantic more than 1000 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands. According to NHC, a tropical depression could form by the middle part of this week. Formation chance through 2 days is low – only 20%. However, the chance through 7 days is medium – 50%.

Satellite images show training storms moving off the coast of Africa. This probably won’t be the last disturbance we see originating in these latitudes in coming weeks.

From NOAA: https://www.goes.noaa.gov/FULLDISK/GMIR.JPG

Note Beryl spinning on the far left of the image above!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/1/24 based on information from NOAA and NHC

2498 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Beryl Goes from Tropical Storm to Cat 4 in One Day

6/30/24, 4 PM – Beryl intensified from a tropical storm yesterday morning to a category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds this afternoon.

Satellite image taken at 3:30 CDT

Elsewhere, Tropical Depression #3 has formed in the Bay of Campeche. NHC predicts it will become a tropical storm by tonight and make landfall near where Alberto did in Mexico less than two weeks ago.

4PM Update on Beryl

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) says that the hurricane continues to move swiftly westward at 18 kt, steered by a strong subtropical ridge to its north. Beryl has made only a minor shift to the north since this morning, following the trend in the latest models.

Potentially catastrophic hurricane-force winds, a life-threatening storm surge, and damaging waves are expected when the hurricane passes over portions of the Windward Islands. At highest risk: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada beginning early Monday morning.

Latest cone of uncertainty for Beryl as of 3PM CDT, 6/30/24

As the hurricane tracks across the Caribbean Sea, there likely will be a gradual increase in wind shear, which should weaken it slightly. However, NHC predicts that Beryl will remain a significant hurricane during its entire trek across the Caribbean region.

So far, the storm’s path has been eerily reminiscent of Harvey’s.

From Wikipedia

Here are the latest track forecasts of various models for today’s storm.

Some models take the path toward Houston, but the consensus seems a bit west.

Sea Surface Temps in Gulf

If Beryl makes it to the Gulf, it will encounter favorable sea surface temps.

Sea Surface Temperature departures from normal. 2 degrees Celsius = 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is too early to predict atmospheric conditions in the Gulf next weekend.

Record-Breaking Beryl

As it spins across the Atlantic, Beryl has already set two records:

  • Farthest east a hurricane has ever formed in the Atlantic in June
  • Earliest Cat 4 Hurricane on record.

Before this storm, the record earliest Category 4 hurricane was Dennis on July 8, 2005.

Posted by Bob Rehak at 4PM CDT on 6/30/24

2497 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Beryl Expected to Become Category 4 Hurricane

6/30/24, 7 AM CDT – The National Hurricane Center (NHC) now predicts that Hurricane Beryl could rapidly intensify into a Category 4 hurricane before reaching the Windward Islands early Monday morning. At 7 AM CDT, NHC estimated Beryl’s maximum sustained winds at 115 mph. That would currently make it a Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, which estimates damage to structures at various wind speeds. (See below.)

High SSTs, Low Wind Shear

Sea surface temperatures in Beryl’s path reach 84.2 degrees Fahrenheit, more typical of August than June. And as Beryl moves westward, wind sheer is decreasing. Both factors favor rapid intensification.

Thus, the latest NHC intensity forecast continues to show rapid intensification over the next day, making Beryl an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane before it reaches the Windward islands.

Once Beryl enters the Caribbean, increasing shear will likely cause the hurricane’s intensity to level off, then start weakening around midweek, according to NHC. 

Eye Wall Development

Recent satellite imagery shows the development of an eye, with cooling cloud tops in the eyewall and a warming eye. 

From National Hurricane Center at 6:20 CDT on 6/30/24

Two Hurricane Hunter aircraft measured the maximum wind speed this morning.

Beryl Continues to Track Mostly Westward

The hurricane is moving slightly north of due west at about 20 mph.  There aren’t any significant track changes from the previous advisory. An extensive mid-level, high-pressure ridge north of Beryl will steer the system westward or west-northwestward for several days. 

 

Model guidance remains in tight agreement on the forecast track. NHC’s 4 AM Atlantic Standard Time update notes that track prediction is basically an update of the previous one.

The farther out you get, the more models diverge. The average of all models eventually shows the storm moving into the western Gulf.

Category 4 Risks

This is a very serious situation developing for the Windward Islands. Beryl will bring destructive winds, life-threatening storm surge, heavy rainfall and flooding for much of the Windward Islands tonight and Monday.

Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale Categories

For those new to the Gulf Coast, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based only on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speed.

This scale does not take into account other potentially deadly hazards such as storm surge, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale estimates potential property damage. While all hurricanes produce life-threatening winds, hurricanes rated Category 3 and higher are known as major hurricanes.

Major hurricanes can cause devastating to catastrophic wind damage and significant loss of life simply due to the strength of their winds.

Hurricanes of all categories can produce deadly storm surge, rain-induced floods, and tornadoes.

CategorySustained WindsTypes of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds
174-95 mph
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
296-110 mph
Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
3
(major)
111-129 mph
Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
4
(major)
130-156 mph
Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
5
(major)
157 mph or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
From National Hurricane Center

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/30/24 at 7 AM CDT

2497 Days since Hurricane Harvey

TS Beryl Predicted to Reach Hurricane Strength within 24 Hours

6/29/24 1:30PM and updated at 3PM – Overnight, a tropical depression in the Atlantic turned into a tropical storm named Beryl. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicted Beryl would intensify into a hurricane by Sunday morning. But it reached hurricane strength by approximately 3PM today. NHC now predicts, Beryl will become a category 3 major hurricane before reaching the Windward Islands.

Some models predict it could even turn into a category 4 hurricane as it tracks through the Caribbean. While it is generally headed toward the Gulf, the exact track remains uncertain this far out.

Beryl is one of the earliest hurricanes ever in the Atlantic. For advisories related to Beryl, see this page on the NHC site.

Meanwhile two other areas of concern are developing. One now over the Yucatan has a 50% chance of development. The other west of Africa has a 70% chance as of Saturday, 6/29/24 at 3PM CDT.

On top of all these storms, the Trinity River Authority has put the Lake Livingston Dam on “potential failure watch.”

Beryl Track

Beryl will continue west for the next 2-3 days. The storm’s strength will affect its track according to Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner. Intensity will determine Beryl’s ability to fight high pressure to the north. The stronger it becomes, the farther north it will curve. The less it intensifies, the farther west it will track.

“At this point it is too early to determine the eventual longer term movement beyond the western Caribbean Sea,” cautions Lindner.

National Hurricane Center cone of uncertainty for Beryl shows it becoming a major hurricane by Monday 7/1/24.
Most models predict a path toward the Gulf.
Different combinations of models take Beryl in slightly different directions.

Beryl Intensity Forecasts

Lindner says that “conditions appear unusually favorable for this time of year and location for development.” Regional hurricane models (HWRF, HOMN, HAFSA, and HAFB) all show significant deepening of this system prior to reaching the Windward Islands. Well above-normal Atlantic water temperatures and low upper-level shear support continued development.

“The main question,” says Lindner, “is how quickly can Beryl form an inner core today or tonight and what potential is the upper end limit on intensification through the Islands?”‘

Satellite Photo from 11:20 AM Houston time, 6/29/24. Beryl is in right-hand circle.

Most models predict a 65 knot wind-speed increase in the next 72 hours. That far exceeds what climatology would suggest for this area for this time of year.

This morning, NHC forecasts a 110mph category 2 hurricane hitting the Windward Islands. They cautioned that their estimate might needed to be increased within the next 12-24 hours. But they increased it within six. By its 2 PM update, NHC predicted Beryl would reach major hurricane status before reaching the Windward Islands.

As Beryl moves deeper into the Caribbean Sea, wind sheer and dry air west of the storm could limit further intensification.

Lindner feels that Day 4-5 wind shear forecasts are not always reliable and the weakening trend shown on the right above may be somewhat overdone.

Another Storm Will Cross Gulf and Head into Mexico

A strong tropical wave over the western Caribbean Sea has reached the eastern coast of the Yucatan and Belize. See the left hand circle in the satellite photo above.

A large area of deep convection has formed. Land interaction and westerly wind shear will inhibit immediate development. However, there may be a brief window for modest development in the southern Gulf of Mexico Sunday/Monday. Then the storm should move inland over eastern Mexico. Current development odds remain around 50%.

Third Storm has 70% Chance of Formation in Atlantic

NHC indicates that a third storm will likely form in the same area where Beryl is now. See the elongated oval below.

This tropical wave is currently located several hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It is showing signs of organization. Another tropical depression or storm may form by the middle part of next week as this wave moves westward along a similar track as Beryl. Chances for development over the next several days are 70%.   

Lake Livingston Dam on Failure Watch

With all this activity in the tropics, it is somewhat disconcerting that the Trinity River Authority has placed the Lake Livingston Dam on a “Potential Failure Watch” due to recent heavy rainfall and flooding.

TRA says the dam is in no immediate danger of failing or breaching. They also say that day-to-day operations will continue, but “gate operations will vary based on conditions.” Translation: They’ll be releasing more water faster in the event of more heavy rainfall.

Look out below.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/29/24 and updated at 3PM

2496 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Tree Lane Project Supposed to be Done Today, But Hasn’t Started

6/28/24 – According to Houston Public Works’ website, the Tree Lane Bridge Rehabilitation Project next to Bear Branch Elementary was to have been completed today. But construction hasn’t even started yet.

Completion Scheduled for End of June

The latest update, posted just last Thursday, shows “end of June 2024” as the promised completion date.

Screen capture from 4PM June 28, 2024, last workday of the month.

But as of the end of the day today, equipment hadn’t moved in approximately two months, with the exception of moving an excavator farther back from the creek when erosion crept dangerously close to it in the May floods.

Erosion from May floods threatened the parking spot for this construction equipment.

Originally, Houston Public Works said construction would take 6 months. Now we have just 5 weeks before the start of the next school year.

Hurricane Approaching

Meanwhile, a tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic. And the National Hurricane Center predicts it will enter the Gulf as a hurricane approximately a week from now.

On the current trajectory, Houston would be in the cone.

There’s still a large degree of uncertainty associated with any storm this far out. But this underscores the fact that the Tree Lane Bridge project is far behind schedule and we are likely entering a very active hurricane season.

Development this far east in late June is unusual, according to the NHC. In fact, they say, “There have only been a few storms in history that have formed over the central or eastern tropical Atlantic this early in the year.” Some models are already predicting this could become a major hurricane (Cat 3 or 4).

The lack of Tree Lane Bridge Rehabilitation progress will expose the bridge to even more erosion if this storm strikes the Houston area. As you can see, the bridge can’t afford much more.

Erosion under bridge

Reasons for Delays

On June 13, Darryl Burrell, EIT, Graduate Engineer, Capital Projects for Houston Public Works, wrote, “There have been multiple instances of utility relocations.”

He added, “Some have already been completed. Our personnel are coordinating with multiple teams and entities. We are all working to get this issue alleviated in a timely manner.”

Photo 6/13/24. That 12″ black pipe is reportedly a city water line that has been exposed since at least April 2022.

I saw a cable company working at the location on 6/17/24, but nothing since then. That was almost two weeks ago. That swooping line in the foreground remains there today.

Editorial Comment: Enforce Deadlines

I’m not sure who is to blame, but would observe this.

As the City looks for ways to trim its budget, it should look at enforcing deadlines.

I wonder how many times contractors have had to reschedule crews around other contractors that didn’t do their jobs on time. That has to increase costs.

And one last issue. Construction delays exposed this area to even greater erosion. That may force revision of the engineering plan, construction drawings, bids, timetables and more.

Why do it once when you can do it twice? Sorry for the cynicism.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/28/24

2495 Days since Hurricane Harvey