Tag Archive for: NWS

Heavy Rainfall, Hail, High Winds, Tornados, Street Flooding Possible Today

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center and Harris County have issued outlooks for today that include risks of heavy rainfall, hail, high winds, tornadoes and street flooding.

NWS predicts an “enhanced risk” of severe weather (3 on a scale of 5) with a 10%-14% chance of tornados. NWS rates the excessive, heavy rainfall risk as slight (at least 15%).

Light rainfall has already begun in the Lake Houston area and will increase throughout the morning hours as storms approach and pass through. The threat should be past us by 3-4 PM, just in time for school pickup.

NWS severe weather outlook as of 12:01 a.m. CST.
NWS tornado outlook as of 12:01 a.m. CST.
NWS excessive rainfall outlook as of 1:55 a.m. Houston time.

Rainfall Accumulation

Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s meteorologist, warns, “Forecasters have tended to increase rainfall amounts over the last 24 hours with the potential for storm clustering and cell training in southwest to northeast bands.”

Lindner says rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches appear to be common today with higher isolated totals of 4-5 inches especially for areas south of I-10, where activity may linger into the evening hours.

Moisture levels will be high for late November. Plus onshore winds will feed more moisture into the area. Widespread showers and thunderstorms are likely.

Some models show banding and training of storms this afternoon into the evening hours. But that’s for areas mainly south of I-10 and around Galveston Bay (SE Harris, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, Brazoria Counties).

Potential for 1-2 Inches Per Hour, Street Flooding

Soils are generally dry over the area, but hourly rainfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour may result in some street flooding at the usual flood-prone locations.

The front will sag off the coast tonight into early Friday, but you can expect additional disturbances across the region on Friday with showers and thunderstorms expanding inland toward the I-10 corridor.  

Wind and Hail

While much focus has been on the tornado threat, we also have the potential for damaging wind and large hail. Stronger showers may produce 40-50mph winds today. Additionally, gradient winds of 25-30mph with a few higher gusts will be common over the area for much of the day with the coastal locations seeing the stronger winds.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/30/23 at 7:40 a.m. based on information from NWS and Jeff Lindner

2284 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Tropical Forecast Suddenly More Active

Still three weeks from the peak of hurricane season (September 10), the tropical forecast has suddenly become more active. The latest seven-day outlook from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) shows four areas of concern. Two will not affect the Texas Gulf Coast. Eventually, the other two could get close.

Chances of Tropical Formation

According to the NHC 8 a.m. update:

  • The red area at the right currently has a 70% chance of tropical formation in the next seven days.
  • The orange area has a 40% chance. Environmental conditions are only marginally conducive for further development of this system, but a tropical depression could still form during the next couple of days while it moves west-northwestward at 10 to 15 mph across the central tropical Atlantic.
  • Neither of those systems poses a threat to Texas.
  • The yellow area in the middle approaching the Lesser Antilles has a 30% chance of formation.
  • The yellow area on the left will move toward the Gulf of Mexico by early next week. It also has a 30% chance of tropical formation.

The NHC updates its website several times a day during hurricane season. So bookmark it and check back often for the latest forecasts.

Local Impact Felt by Next Tuesday

Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s meteorologist, has been sending out updates all week long on the last system. Here’s what he had to say on Friday morning, 8/18/23. “A low chance of tropical cyclone formation remains possible over the western Gulf early to mid next week.”

“A tropical wave will reach the eastern Gulf of Mexico late this weekend. As high pressure over Texas lifts northward and centers over the Midwest early next week, this wave will continue westward and approach the Texas coast by Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Lindner.

Possibilities include a tropical wave, tropical depression, or weak tropical storm moving inland along the lower or middle Texas coast. Conditions appear to be generally favorable for some slow development, but dry air is lurking along the U.S. Gulf coast that could wrap into any developing system. Also any developing system could encounter wind shear over the western Gulf from the outflow of powerful Hurricane Hilary in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Any Development Most Likely Near Coast

“With that said, the system will be moving over warm sea surface temperatures and systems, especially in the NW Gulf under the right conditions can tighten up just prior to landfall. This may be a situation where whatever is going to happen with any development occurs very near the coast,” said Lindner. 

Most Moisture Near Coast and West of Houston

Lindner concludes, “Regardless of development, tropical moisture will surge into the Texas coast as early as late Monday, but more likely Tuesday or Wednesday. For now, the greatest moisture looks to remain along and south of the I-10 corridor with areas north of I-10 still under the influence of the high pressure ridge over the Midwest. There will likely be a strong gradient in rain chances from south to north over the area next week with the potential for some desperately needed rainfall across the coastal locations.”

Subsiding air from the high to the north will determine how far inland the moisture and rain/bands reach. This map from the National Weather Service (NWS) helps visualize what the situation will look like by Monday, August 21.

Flood Risk Less than 5%

The risk of excessive rainfall that could cause flash flooding is less than 5% according to the NWS.

It’s pretty sad when you start wishing for a tropical storm. But we sure could use something to break the drought and cool us off. Yesterday’s high of 105 was the highest temp recorded in Houston since 1909, according to ABC13. And it could get close to that again today.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/18/23

2180 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Mark Your Calendar: Tour Hurricane Hunter Aircraft on May 1

NOAA, the National Weather Service and the Hurricane Hunters will sponsor a public tour of Hurricane Hunter aircraft at Ellington Field on Monday, May 1, 2023. It’s all part of a Hurricane Awareness Tour open to the public.

Hurricane Hunter
What You Can Do:

Tour the NOAA-P3 and the USAF C130 Hurricane Hunter aircraft. Mingle with the pilots and air crews. Meet experts from the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center, including the newly appointed NHC Director Michael Brennan.

There will be numerous static displays including other aircraft and disaster response vehicles. The US Coast Guard will display a helicopter and flood boat.

Representatives from various agencies will pass out hurricane preparedness materials.

  • Speak with hurricane forecasters
  • Meet with local National Weather Service meteorologists
  • Walk through exhibits from various agencies & organizations
  • Learn about weather safety & preparedness
List of Booths:
  • Nws Houston/Galveston
  • Harris County Office Of Homeland Security And Emergency Management
  • Harris County Flood Control District
  • City Of Houston Office Of Emergency Management
  • United States Army Corps Of Engineers
  • USAA – United Services Automobile Association 
  • Flash – Federal Alliance For Safe Homes
  • American Red Cross
Where:

Ellington Airport, near Hangar G

11210 Blume Ave

Houston, TX 77034

See this PDF for directions.

When:

Public viewing period from 12:30 pm to 4 pm. 

Gates close to entry at 3 pm. 

Plan on about an hour to view the aircraft and displays.

Free And Open to All:

There is no charge to tour the Hurricane Hunters. This event is free and open to all as part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, April 30-May 6.

For more details and directions, click here.

And remember, hurricane season is just weeks away.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/18/2023

2058 Days since Hurricane Harvey

NWS Says La Niña Has Ended, Likely Impact on Weather

On March 9, 2023, the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service (NWS) announced that La Niña conditions which persisted for 3-years have finally ended. But we are not shifting directly into El Niño. Instead, we’re entering a transitional phase. NWS expects neutral conditions to continue through the Northern Hemisphere into spring and early summer of 2023.

La Niña and El Niño represent opposite phases of what meteorologists call ENSO, the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the Pacific Ocean. They govern recurring climate patterns across the tropical Pacific and have a cascade of global side effects, says NWS.

The patterns shift back and forth irregularly every two to seven years. This past La Niña phase lasted three years, an unusually long time.

NWS predicts that ENSO-neutral conditions will continue through the spring. The weather service also predicts El Niño conditions to form during summer 2023 and persist through the fall.

Impacts on Weather

The oscillation brings predictable shifts in ocean surface and atmospheric temperatures. These shifts disrupt the wind and rainfall patterns across the tropics.

El Niño brings cooler, wetter conditions to the southern U.S. in winter months. It also brings stronger steering currents that can disrupt low-pressure systems coming off the coast of Africa that turn into hurricanes.

La Niña, on the other hand, usually means less disruption, more Atlantic storms, and deeper droughts in the southern U.S. But we’re finally putting the most recent La Niña behind us.

ENSO Influence on Atlantic and Pacific Hurricane Seasons

The continental United States and Caribbean Islands have a substantially decreased chance of experiencing a hurricane during El Niño and an increased chance of experiencing a hurricane during La Niña. These maps (by NOAA Climate.gov, based on originals by Gerry Bell) explain why.

Typical El Niño effects on Pacific and Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity.

Overall, El Niño contributes to more eastern and central Pacific hurricanes and fewer Atlantic hurricanes. Conversely, La Niña contributes to fewer eastern and central Pacific hurricanes and more Atlantic hurricanes – exactly the opposite.

Typical La Niña effects on Pacific and Atlantic seasonal hurricane activity.

Other Influences on Hurricane Formation: AMO

NOAA also says that other oscillations, such as the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO) also influence hurricane formation. The warm phase of the AMO is associated with warmer sea surface temperatures and high hurricane activity in the main development region of the Atlantic between Western Africa and the Caribbean.

“The hurricane activity in any given season often reflects a combination of the multi-decadal signals and ENSO,” says NOAA.

For More Information

For a fuller discussion of how El Niño and La Niña influence other aspects of weather worldwide, check out NOAA’s Climate.gov, especially the FAQ page.

Also, the Associated Press ran an interesting story this morning by Seth Borenstein. The headline: “La Nina, which worsens hurricanes and drought, is gone.”

Borenstein says NOAA gives El Niño a 60% chance of returning this fall. But there’s also a 5% chance that La Niña will return for an unprecedented fourth winter.

We should have more certainty in a few months.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/9/23

2018 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Strong Thunderstorms, Street Flooding, Tornados Possible Tomorrow

Update: 10/28/22 11am: Today’s reports indicate the highest severe storm risk is shifting SW of Houston and offshore. Experts now predict 1-2 inches of rain for the Houston area today. Areas offshore are already getting 2-4 inches per hour.

Tomorrow will likely bring strong thunderstorms. Rainfall rates could exceed the capacity of street drains leading to localized street flooding. And the severe weather may also spin up some tornados, according to Harris County’s meteorologist and the National Weather Service (NWS).

Heavy Rainfall

NWS predicts two to three inches of rain could fall on Friday, as warm, moist air pushing in from the Gulf collides with a cold front pushing in from the northwest. Jeff Lindner, Harris County meteorologist, predicts the worst period for us will be Friday afternoon.

Tornados Possible

The NWS Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, issued this warning for Friday . It shows a marginal risk of severe weather for the entire Houston area and a slightly higher risk for areas south and west of us.

Reasons for Concern

For the weather wonks reading this, Lindner cites an unusual convergence of storm systems at different levels of the atmosphere.

A trough will begin to move eastward toward Texas later today. Surface pressures will begin to fall this afternoon as low pressure develops ahead of the approaching mid-level low. Southeast winds will increase today, letting Gulf moisture quickly return to coastal Texas.

As the mid-level low approaches us, it will meet the northward-moving, moisture-laden warm front moving in from the Gulf.

Severe threats will be highest along the boundary. Tropical moisture will march quickly northward tonight on a 30-knot low level jet. Precipitable waters – the amount of moisture in a column of air – will equal 1.8 inches by Friday morning over much of the region.

As large-scale lift increases over the developing warm sector, showers and thunderstorms will develop from southwest to northeast across the region.

The cold front associated with the mid-level low will sweep west to east across southeast Texas on Friday afternoon, touching off more thunderstorms. The front will slow Friday night, so showers will linger over the area.

Severe Threat: 

The surface low approaching from the northwest will meet the warm front coming from the opposite direction along a NW to SE axis on Friday. This warm front will extend from near San Antonio to near Freeport during the day and produce strong to severe thunderstorms. Low-level winds near the warm front will circle back toward the ESE and enhance low-level storm rotation.

Such collisions are notorious for tornado production, according to Lindner. Discrete cells may develop ahead of the line of storms approaching from the west. The location of the greatest severe risk will depend on where the warm front sets up Friday morning. Areas along and south of the front will have the highest risk.

If the warm front moves just a few miles farther north, it will increase risk to the Houston metro area. Kingwood was struck by tornados in a similar setup earlier this year.

Damaging winds will be the main threat. The worst of the storms should be over by 3-5 pm Friday, but lighter rains may linger well into the evening hours.  

Heavy Rainfall: 

Moisture will deepen Thursday into Friday. By Friday morning, a saturated air mass will be in place over the region. “Strong divergent lift coupled with low-level inflow will increase the potential for heavy rainfall along with cell training from southwest to northeast.”

Lindner describes himself as “aways wary of such setups.” They can help anchor and train convection.

The overall pattern favors supercell formation with both a tornado and heavy rainfall risk.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist

These storms could become significant rainfall producers – if they become sustained along the warm frontal boundary. The good news is that the ground is dry and can handle several inches of rainfall. “However, rainfall rates may exceed localized drainage capacities and result in some street flooding regardless of the dry ground conditions,” says Lindner.

Weekend: 

Cloudiness should linger much of Saturday keeping temperatures in the 50’s under northerly winds. South of the cloud line temperatures will warm into the 70’s. Where that line will be Saturday is hard to determine. Clouds should erode Saturday night with mostly clear skies. Sunday will be mild.  

Tropics:

The hurricane season has another month to go. It isn’t over yet! The National Hurricane Center now gives an area of low pressure moving WNW across the Caribbean a 50% chance of turning into a tropical depression in the next five days. No one is yet predicting what will happen if it does.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/27/22 based on information from Jeff Lindner, NWS, and NHC

1885 Days since Hurricane Harvey

NHC Gives 40% Chance of Formation to 91L Within 5 Days

Another tropical wave is moving into the Caribbean along the same track as Ian. As of Monday morning at 8 a.m., the National Hurricane Center gives it a 40% chance of developing within 5 days. Currently, the tropical wave is several hundred miles east of the Windward Islands and moving westward at 15-20mph. The NHC has designated this area of investigation as 91L.

Atlantic tropical waves and directions. Invest 91L is orange.

While Invest 91L looks fairly impressive on satellite images (see below), Jeff Lindner, Harris County meteorologist says, “There does not appear to be any closed low-level circulation yet. This wave should reach the eastern Caribbean Sea around mid-week and the western Caribbean by this weekend.”

91L is the storm north of the Guyanas and Suriname on the north coast of South America.

Says Lindner, “Conditions generally become favorable for development along the track of 91L, but when compared to Ian, model solutions are much more varied with development potential and also much more scattered. Some models take the storm into Central America, others predict it will track toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

From Tropical Tidbits.

For now, watch and wait.

Orlene Moves Inland Over Mexico

In the meantime, the eastern Pacific is fairly active. NHC is tracking three storms. Two are moving northwest parallel to the Mexican coast as a third – Hurricane Orlene moves inland near Mazatlán.

Mid- and high-level moisture from Orlene will stream across our area later in the week. However, our air is so dry right now that precipitation aloft will likely not reach the ground.

Glancing Blow from Frontal Boundary Later in Week

Lindner also predicts, “Toward the end of this week, moisture may return to Texas from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a front that will drop into the eastern U.S. The front should only strike a glancing blow to Texas. Most of it will head more southeast toward the Tennessee Valley. So rainfall potential for Houston will remain low. Our dry pattern will likely continue.”

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center sees little to no severe threat.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/3/2022 at 11:30 am

1861 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Slight Chance of Tropical Formation In Gulf This Weekend

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued a tropical weather outlook today that shows a 10% chance of tropical formation in the Gulf. This is your “heads up.” Hurricane season is ramping up.

NHC will provide an update on chances for development later this evening, but models show growing support that a tropical depression or weak tropical storm is possible along the middle or lower TX coast by Sunday. The system will then moving inland over south Texas late Sunday into Monday, according to Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s meteorologist.

Latest Satellite Imagery

Here’s what the Gulf looks like on satellite Friday evening. The system will track W to WSW over 85-90 degree waters toward the mid- or lower-Texas coast on Sunday.

4:51 PM Houston DST

Currently, disorganized showers and thunderstorms over the north-central Gulf of Mexico are associated with an area of low pressure centered just offshore of the southern coast of Louisiana. There’s no tropical formation yet. But that could change.

As of 2PM EDT today, NHC listed the formation chance through:

  • 48 hours…low…10 percent.
  • 5 days…low…10 percent.

Rainfall Potential

Regardless of development, locally heavy rains are possible along portions of the Texas coast through the weekend. For more information about the potential for heavy rainfall, please see the National Weather Service site and the Weather Prediction Center.

Highest rain chances in next few days for SE Texas are around mid-day Saturday.

Decent rain chances exist for the next three days, especially along the coastline south of I-10.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s meteorologist says, he expects most of the shower and thunderstorm development associated with this low pressure system to happen near the coast and offshore. He expects lesser chances inland to the north as high pressure and drier air begins to build southward from the northeast. 

Forecasters use a measurement called PWS (Precipitable Waters) to predict amounts of rainfall. PWS measures the amount of water vapor in a column of air. This weekend with PWS of 2.2-2.3 inches and possible cell training, Lindner warns that a quick 2-3 inches of rainfall in less than an hour will be possible. Even though grounds are dry and should be able to handle the rainfall, some street flooding will be possible with those rates.

No River Flooding Expected

However, National Weather Service expects no significant river flooding in the next five days.

Tide Report

According to Lindner, tides are already elevated along the coast due to the full moon. Easterly and southeasterly low-level winds on the north side of the low may bump seas up a bit over the weekend and push tides a little higher. He expects water to be way up on the beaches at high tides over the weekend.

Monitor forecasts closely over the weekend for any changes.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/12/2022

1809 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Records

Today, I discovered a fascinating 49-page document produced by the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, NOAA and the National Climatic Data Center. It contains hurricane records going back to 1851. It covers the deadliest, costliest and most intense U.S. tropical cyclones and other frequently requested facts. Unfortunately, it only goes through 2010. But the wealth of information on the period it covers more than makes up for that.

Like the Baseball Encyclopedia for Weather Geeks

It’s like the Baseball Encyclopedia for tropical storms…a must read for weather geeks and anyone who wants to impress out-of-town friends. Texas plays a prominent role in this chronicle.

From Page 8. Mainland United States tropical cyclones causing 25 or more deaths, 1851-2010. The black numbers are the ranks of a given storm on Table 2 (e.g. 1 is the deadliest all-time – the Galveston Hurricane of 1900). The colors are the intensity of the tropical cyclone at its maximum impact on the United States.

A look at the lists reveals striking facts. For instance:

  • Fourteen out of the fifteen deadliest hurricanes ranked Category 3 or higher intensity
  • Large death tolls resulted largely from storm surge 10 feet or higher
  • A large portion of the damage in some of the costliest storms resulted from inland floods caused by torrential rains
  • One third of the 30 deadliest hurricanes ranked category 4 or higher
  • Only seven of the 30 deadliest hurricanes occurred between 1985 and 2010 while more than two thirds of the costliest hurricanes occurred during the same period.

A Look Behind the Facts

All costs are adjusted for inflation, so that’s not the major issue. Migration is. 1990 Census data showed that 85% of U.S. coastal residents from Texas to Maine had never experienced a direct hit by a major hurricane. But we have more risk now because more than 50 million people have moved to coastal areas since then.

The study warns, “If warnings are heeded and preparedness plans developed, the death toll can be minimized. However, large property losses are inevitable in the absence of a significant change of attitude, policy, or laws governing building practices (codes and location) near the ocean.”

Filled with Tables, Maps and Insight

One of the most interesting features: maps that show the tracks of record setting storms during the entire period and during each decade.

Amaze your friends with trivia, such as:

  1. Average number of tropical cyclones per year AND how it has varied in different periods.
  2. Years with the most and least hurricanes and landfalls.
  3. Earliest and latest hurricane formations (hint: March 7 and December 31).
  4. Longest- and shortest-lived hurricanes.
  5. Lowest pressure in the Atlantic basin.
  6. Most hurricanes occurring in Atlantic basin at one time.
  7. Number of hurricanes in each month.
  8. Hurricane strikes of various categories by state.
  9. When hurricanes are most likely to strike different areas.
  10. Average return periods for hurricanes in different areas.
  11. Hurricane landfall CYCLES.

That last one really caught my eye.

Hurricanes tend to cluster in certain areas during certain decades!

Biggest Lesson Learned

The study concludes with another warning. “The largest loss of life can occur in the storm surge, so coastal residents should prepare to move away from the water until the hurricane has passed! Unless this message is clearly understood by coastal residents through a thorough and continuing preparedness effort, a future disastrous loss of life is inevitable.”

To read the full study, click here.

This is a genuine work of scholarship dished up in a way that makes it accessible to the general public. That takes some talent! Credits go to Eric Blake and Christopher Landsea of the NHC, and Ethan Gibney of the National Climatic Data Center.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/8/22 based on a study by NOAA, NWS and NCDC

1774 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Severe Weather Threat Increasing for Tomorrow, Up to 7″ Now Possible

Severe Weather, Flash Flood Likelihood Increasing for Monday Afternoon into Early Tuesday

Updated at 7:30 PM:

According to Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist, a powerful storm will move into Texas over the next 24 hours bringing multiple hazards to the area. The chances of severe weather and heavy rainfall by Monday afternoon and evening continue to increase. They are also expanding over a wider area. Since the original post, Harris County’s Meteorologist, Jeff Lindner has raised concerns about rises on the San Jacinto River West and East Forks to flood stage over the next few days. Rises on other creeks and bayous in Harris County also look likely, especially where we experience cell training and higher rainfall totals. Lindner advises to monitor weather closely on Monday and Monday night.

Outlook tomorrow for severe weather from the NWS Storm Prediction Center.

Higher Likelihood of Severe Weather Including Tornados Starting Monday Afternoon

There were some doubts yesterday about the likelihood for supercells to develop. But as we get closer to the storm’s arrival and certainty increases, supercell formation looks increasingly likely. “All severe modes will be in play including tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds,” says Lindner. “There could be a few strong tornadoes, especially for locations north of I-10.” Yesterday, the main likelihood was north of SH105.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has expanded the enhanced risk (3 out of 5) outline to include more of Southeast Texas. The severe threat will begin in the mid-afternoon hours on Monday and continue into the late evening hours.

6-7 Inches, Flash Flooding Possible 

While the heaviest rainfall will likely occur over North Texas, the potential for high-precipitation supercells to develop and train across Southeast Texas is increasing for Monday afternoon and evening. As the front slows over Southeast Texas Monday night, Lindner expects the severe threat to gradually shift toward heavy rainfall and possible flash flooding throughout the night.

The greatest threat will generally be along and north of I-10. A slow-moving line of supercells will raise the flash-flood threat. If you get caught under one that’s training across your area as we saw back in January, be prepared.

Lindner has virtually doubled his rainfall predictions since yesterday. Instead of widespread 0.5-2 inches across the area, he now sees widespread 3-4 inches. And whereas yesterday he saw isolated rainfall totals up to 4 inches, today he estimates up to 6-7 inches.

Hourly rainfall rates of 2-3 inches will be possible leading to rapid onset flash flooding over urban areas. Street flooding will be the primary threat, but under corridors of excessive rainfall, significant rises on creeks and bayous will be possible.

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist

In an update at 7:30 PM Sunday night, Lindner specifically mentioned the possibility of the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto rising to flood stage if we receive the higher rainfall totals in the forecast.

The NWS Weather Prediction Center has upgraded the area north of the I-10 corridor to a moderate risk for flash flooding.

National Weather Service outlook tomorrow for excessive rainfall.

Monday afternoon and evening will be active over the area. So have multiple ways to receive warnings. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your weather radio and flashlights; it could be a long night.

Putting Forecast in Perspective

To put this in perspective:

  • The supercells that spawned tornadoes over Kingwood in January dumped approximately 5 inches of rain. I talked with a lady on Facebook this morning whose home was destroyed by a tornado in that storm. She said she received warnings seconds before the tornado struck. She barely had enough time to get to an interior hallway before her home started crumbling around her.
  • The May 7th, 2019, storm that flooded more than 200 homes in Elm Grove dumped 7 inches of rain. But less than 20% of the floodwater detention capacity on Woodridge Village had been built at that point.
  • The City announced at 5:15 this afternoon that it will lower Lake Houston by 1 foot starting tonight. A forecast greater than 3 inches triggers the Lake Houston lowering protocol.

How To Get Warnings

NOAA broadcasts warnings on weather radio in a continuous loop during emergencies.

The National Weather Service lets you sign up for watches and warnings for your address.

Harris County’s Flood Warning System also lets you sign up to receive rainfall or flooding alerts for your location. The site also contains maps that show real-time rainfall, and river-channel monitoring and forecasting at gages throughout the region.

USGS has a web app called Water On the Go that shows water elevations at flood gages wherever you go in Texas.

Harris County Flood Control District’s Storm Center can connect you to a wide variety of preparedness articles and ways to summon help in an emergency.

A number of companies offer good apps for cell phones that offer warnings. I especially like one called Dark Skies that bills itself as “hyper-local” weather. It frequently tells me to the minute when a storm will arrive at my exact location…wherever I am.

You can also find links to dozens of other weather related apps and sites on my Links Page. Check them out before the storm arrives. You never know when a storm will knock out a web site, a cell tower, or power. So be prepared with multiple backups.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/20/2022 based on input from the NWS, HCFCD and City of Houston

1664 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Texas Hurricane History

I came across a fascinating, though slightly dated study by David Roth of the National Weather Service called “Texas Hurricane History”. The 80-page document is filled with trivia that will let you astound friends and family.

Texas Hurricane History From 1527 to 2008

It starts with a section on climatology, then has a list of Texas hurricanes dating back to 1527. The list goes up through Ike in 2008.

Next, there’s a section on hurricane records. It shows dates, wind speeds, deaths, minimum central pressures, origins, tracks and more. Finally, there are numerous chapters devoted to hurricanes by century that contain historical narratives on each major storm.

The Last Indianola Hurricane: A Prequel to the Great Galveston Hurricane

Most people in Houston have heard the story of the Galveston hurricane of 1900. And there’s a lengthy discussion of it in Roth’s history. The storm changed the course of this region’s economic development.

But I had never before heard of the “Last Indianola Hurricane.” Long before Galveston, a Category 4 storm changed the history and economic development of another part of Texas by wiping out another of Texas’ major ports.

The city of Indianola was founded on the west shore of Matagorda Bay in 1844 by immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, and France. It quickly grew to handle the business west of there, but fell prey to frequent hurricanes including one in 1875 that killed 176 people.

Image from Calhoun County Museum: Debris from the 1875 hurricane that hit Indianola, Texas. The town rebuilt after the storm only to destroyed 11 years later. 

On August 18-20th, 1886, Indianola suffered a fatal calamity in another hurricane. Says Roth, “Winds increased throughout the night of the 19th. Matagorda Bay began to invade the city by daylight on the 20th. The wind increased to 72 mph before the Signal Office building collapsed; the observer was killed by a falling timber during his attempt at escape. A lamp in the office burned down the building, along with more than a block of neighboring buildings on both sides of the street, despite the heavy rain. Although the storm was of shorter duration than the one in 1875, winds were considered higher. A storm surge of 15 feet inundated the region, covering the base of the Matagorda Island lighthouse with four feet of water. A large schooner was carried five miles inland.” 

“The town was a universal wreck; not a house that was left standing was safe to dwell in,” says Roth. “Most people in town left for the greener pastures of Victoria and San Antonio.”

In this part of Texas, that’s a lesser known prequel to the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed more than 8,000 people. But the effect was the same. It led to the rapid growth of safer cities farther inland.

Amazing Facts from Texas Hurricane History

For those who think only recent hurricane have high winds, Roth points to Hurricane Celia that hit Aransas pass in 1970 with 180 mph winds.

And before Harvey, four storms dumped 40″ or more of rain on Texas (in 1921, 1978, 1979, 2001).

Roth’s Texas Hurricane History is a work of scholarship. It contains an eight-page bibliography containing hundreds of references to books and newspaper articles, some of which date back more than 125 years – long before the digital age made such research easy.

For future reference, I will also link Roth’s history to the Reports Page under the Major Storms tab.

As Roth says in his preface, “More hurricanes will strike Texas over the coming years. Learning what happened in past storms can help to prepare you for the future. If the past is ignored, mistakes made in previous storms are likely to occur again.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/4/2021

1467 Days since Hurricane Harvey