Saturday, August 26, 2017

Powerful hurricane Harvey slams Texas coast

A spectacular satellite image showing the eye of hurricane Harvey just prior to landfall Friday night, on San Jose Island, Texas. (NOAA)
A strengthening hurricane Harvey made landfall at around 10pm CDT Friday, August 25, along the Texas Gulf Coast near San Jose Island, north of Port Aransas. Harvey had developed into a major hurricane in the last few hours before landfall Friday, reaching category 4 status with winds of 130 mph. Harvey was the first major hurricane in over a decade to hit the US, the last being Charley in 2004. Harvey managed to go from near death, to a major category 4 storm, in less than 72 hours over the warm Gulf waters. As daylight breaks along the central Texas coast, a better view of the storms impact is coming into focus. There is widespread damage reported, especially on Port Aransas, Port O'Connor and Rockport. Buildings have collapse and injuries are reported. Debris is scattered everywhere, with power out to over 200,000 homes, and that number is growing by the hour. A peak wind of 132 mph was observed at Port Aransas.

Wind damage in Matagorda County, Texas on Friday afternoon.
This morning, Harvey remains a powerful category 2 storm, located 30 miles south of Victoria, Texas. The storm is meandering northwest at 6 mph.  Harvey is forecast to transition into a major, catastrophic rain event, with over 20 inches forecast for most of southern and coastal Texas, including Houston. Victoria, Texas has already measured 16.43 inches (417mm) of rain in just the last 24 hours. Forecast estimates for Victoria run as high as 50 inches (1270mm) for the duration of the storm. This amount of rainfall from a single event is unheard of, with widespread flooding anticipated. To put this into perspective, Montreal receives an average annual rainfall of 785mm (31 inches) for the entire year.

The forecast track for Harvey over the next few days has the storm weakening slowly over land, while moving into east Texas and southwest Louisiana. In addition to the flooding, scattered tornadoes continue to affect east Texas. The tornado risk will persist throughout Saturday.

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