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Imelda lashing eastern Texas with flooding rains (forecast video)

May not stop until Thursday

Remnants of Tropical Storm Imelda on Sept. 18, 2019. (Image: NOAA)

More Lone Star lashing

Tropical Depression Imelda continues to soak southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana with heavy rainfall, flooding and thunderstorms. Imelda became just strong enough yesterday, Sept. 17, to elevate its status from tropical depression to a tropical storm for a few hours. Overnight, Imelda lost a little bit of steam as far as its winds, but not its relentless rain.

Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport (ICAO: HOU) received a daily record 4.67 inches yesterday, and Scholes International Airport (ICAO: GLS) in Galveston got nearly 4.5 inches. As of early this morning, Sept. 18, storm totals from Imelda have exceeded 10 inches in some parts of Brazoria County, just south of Houston. Many communities in other counties have recorded seven to 10 inches so far, with several more inches possible today, especially south and east of Houston.

According to KTRK-TV this morning, a number of Galveston County offices have closed today due to the weather, including the County Courts, District Courts, County Clerk’s Office and County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office. Several drivers became stuck in high water. One woman was picked up by a tow truck driver, even as her boyfriend tried to come to her rescue.

Early this morning, local law enforcement officials reported heavy rain across portions of Brazoria, Matagorda and Wharton counties in southeastern Texas, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a Flash Flood Warning. Route 457 near Sargent was impassable due to flooding, and may still be closed.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has received several other reports of flash flooding since yesterday afternoon, and a Flash Flood Watch remains in effect through tomorrow from Houston, Galveston and Lufkin, Texas eastward to Lake Charles, Louisiana. Rainfall rates of two to four inches per hour are possible – too much for some drainage systems to handle. Roadblocks are likely along the I-10 corridor due to high water, and some air cargo may be delayed due to lightning and/or torrential rain. So far, Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) and BNSF (NYSE: BRK) railroads have not reported any outages.

SONAR Traffic: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 11 a.m. EDT

The Texas Department of Transportation has reported some road closures due to flooding in the Houston and Galveston areas and there’s potential for additional roadblocks. Department of Transportation (DOT) traffic information, housed inside FreightWaves SONAR, has been indicating spots of severe congestion at times in the Houston and Galveston areas.

The remnants of Imelda will remain nearly stationary today, its center continuing to wobble over southeastern Texas. Then, the storm may slowly move northward later tonight into Thursday, hopefully fading by Thursday evening.

Tropical update

Hurricane Humberto will not have a major impact on shipping lanes as it continues to move eastward and away from the U.S. coast. However, minor/moderate delays in ocean cargo are possible as freighters will have to steer around the storm.

SONAR Critical Events: Hurricane Humberto on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 11 a.m. EDT

At 11 a.m. EDT today, Humberto was centered 195 miles west of Bermuda. On its current National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast track, housed inside the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events platform, the core of Humberto will probably pass just to the northwest of Bermuda later tonight. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph, which makes Humberto a Category 3 hurricane. Some fluctuations in strength are likely during the next 24 hours or so, but Humberto should remain a powerful hurricane through early Thursday, followed by a gradual weakening trend. The NHC has issued a Hurricane Warning for Bermuda.

Humberto is a large hurricane and continues to grow in size. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 105 miles away from Humberto’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195 miles. Winds in Bermuda are expected to reach tropical-storm strength, 39 to 73 mph, later this afternoon. Hurricane conditions – winds of at least 74 mph – should reach Bermuda tonight and continue into early Thursday morning.

Hurricane Humberto may bring periods of heavy rain to Bermuda through Thursday, with rainfall totals of two to four inches and pockets of six-inch accumulations. Large swells generated by Humberto will increase along the coast of Bermuda today and will continue to affect the northwestern Bahamas and the southeastern coast of the U.S. from east-central Florida to North Carolina during the next couple of days. Also, storm surge and breaking waves could raise water levels by one to three feet above normal tide levels along the immediate southern coast of Bermuda.

All of these conditions may combine to cause short-term delays in local supply chains on the island, as well as air and ocean cargo to and from Bermuda.

SONAR Critical Events: Tropical Storm Jerry on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 11 a.m. EDT

Tropical Storm Jerry, formerly Tropical Depression 10, is spinning over the Atlantic well south of Humberto. Most forecast models have Jerry becoming a hurricane by later this week, skirting to the north of the Leeward and Virgin Islands this weekend. This would keep the storm over open waters. However, keep in mind that tropical cyclones are always developing situations and outlooks can change. Look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts throughout the remainder of the week.

Have a great day, and be careful out there!

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.