More Texas torrents
Tropical Depression Imelda continues to slam southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana with copious amounts of rain and life-threatening flooding. Galveston and Beaumont, part of the Houston freight market, have been some of the hardest hit areas with flooded streets resulting in evacuations, water rescues and roadblocks, as well as government office and school shut-downs.
The relentless downpours and flooding will not stop today. At all costs, truckers should avoid areas from just east of Houston northward to Tyler, Texas, as well as lanes eastward to Lake Charles and Shreveport, Louisiana. The Texas Department of Transportation is reporting closures on portions of I-10 around Beaumont, Texas, and additional road closures are a strong possibility. As of this morning, Sept. 19, BNSF (NYSE: BRK.A) and Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) have not reported any outages on their rails in the region.
The Jack Brooks Regional Airport (ICAO: BPT) in Beaumont received a daily record 7.46 inches of rain yesterday, and the Scholes International Airport (ICAO: GLS) in Galveston received a record 6.20 inches. Houston has dodged a bullet, spared from major flooding. But the William P. Hobby Airport (ICAO: HOU) in Houston still managed to get a record 2.68 inches of rain yesterday. Add these measurements to Tuesday’s rainfall and the storm totals from Imelda jump to 5.27 inches for Houston, 10.24 for Beaumont and 10.84 for Galveston as of midnight last night.
Earlier today, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Houston tweeted that storm totals so far have exceeded 20 inches of rainfall in some areas. An automated weather station in Conroe, Texas, recorded five inches of rainfall in just one hour. This is what filled the rain gauge, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. Most drainage systems can’t handle that much rain in a short period of time, which is why flooding can happen so quickly.
Imelda may produce another 5-10 inches of rainfall today across the upper Texas coast into far southeastern Texas, with isolated storm totals of 25-35 inches; 3-5 more inches with isolated storm totals of 10 inches across portions of southwest Louisiana; and another 2-4 inches with isolated storm totals of 8 inches for the rest of eastern Texas. The NWS is keeping a Flash Flood Watch posted for the region, as seen in the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events platform in the map directly above. The storm may not fade until after dark tonight.
Other U.S. weather
The rest of the country will be relatively quiet. A few severe thunderstorms may pop up in the Houston metropolitan area as well as from the Texas Panhandle to Nebraska, producing isolated tornadoes, spots of large hail and some gusty winds.
Overnight driver beware: watch out for high elevation snowfall from the Sierra Nevada to the northern Rockies late tonight through Friday. Some of the heaviest amounts, up to 8 or 9 inches, will hit portions of southwestern Montana and northwestern Wyoming where the NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory. This includes Bozeman, West Yellowstone, and Beartooth Pass. The storm will not likely have much impact on interstate travel, but many secondary routes will become slick.
Other tropical cyclones
Hurricane Humberto came close to a direct hit on Bermuda last night. The eye of the storm came within 75 miles of the island’s northern and western coasts, causing some wind damage. Humberto is far enough away from Bermuda that it will no longer pose a significant threat, but it’s still close enough to produce large swells and high surf around the island today. Humberto will have only minor impacts on shipping lanes as it moves toward the northern Atlantic.
Hurricane Jerry is approaching the northern Leeward Islands maximum sustained with winds of 75 mph, which makes it a Category 1 hurricane. Jerry will probably not make a direct landfall on any Caribbean islands, based on the latest computer model runs from this morning, but minor impacts on shipping lanes and some port operations are possible through the weekend.
Keep in mind that tropical cyclones can sometimes change course unexpectedly and what may look like a minor shift can have major consequences. Hurricane Dorian was a good example of this, changing direction by just 100 miles or so, then devastating parts of the Bahamas days after forecasters initially through it wouldn’t even become a hurricane. Look for more updates on tropical weather on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts throughout the remainder of the week.
Have a great day, and be careful out there!