Tropical Depression Harvey affecting parts of the United States and Mexico

24 Aug 2017

Harvey will likely continue to strengthen as it tracks to the northwest in the coming days. Forecast models indicate that the system will likely become a strong tropical storm or a weak Category 1 hurricane before it comes onshore near Port Aransas, Texas overnight on August 25-26. After making landfall, the system will likely stall over southeastern Texas through at least August 28. 

Hurricane-force winds will probably reach areas under the hurricane watch by late August 25. Tropical storm-force winds will likely arrive in coastal areas of Tamaulipas State, Mexico during the day on August 24. Gusts in excess of 137 kph (85 mph) will likely lead to power outages and property damage. In Texas, outages can be expected in the CenterPoint Energy, TNMP, and AEP Texas service areas. The US National Hurricane Center has issued a storm surge watch for coastal areas between Port Mansfield and High Island, Texas. Despite the forecasted slow movement of Harvey over the next couple days, water levels of 1.2-1.8 meters (4-6 feet) above normal tides are possible in the watch area, especially if the surge coincides with high tide. The most significant coastal flooding will likely occur near where the center of circulation makes landfall, especially to the northeast of the center. 

Torrential rainfall will likely be the most significant threat to the western US Gulf Coast if Harvey stalls over Texas as current forecast models suggest. Widespread accumulations of 25-38 cm (10-15 inches), with localized amounts of over 50 cm (20 inches) are possible between August 23-29 in parts of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana, including the Houston and Galveston areas. Totals of 5-23 cm (2-9 inches) are possible elsewhere in parts of northeastern Tamaulipas State, Mexico; southern and central Texas; and the lower Mississippi River Valley. The rainfall will likely cause flash and areal flooding throughout the region. In the Greater Houston area, flash and areal flooding could occur along floodways and in areas where ponding is a regular problem. Areal flooding will also probably be a problem in industrial zones along the north and south banks of the Buffalo Bayou portion of the Houston Ship Channel. 

Harvey will lead to ground, air, and maritime transport disruptions throughout the affected area through to at least August 29. Traffic and commercial trucking delays are highly likely on regional highways in the US, including along portions of the I-10, I-20, I-35, I-37, I-45, I-49, and I-69 corridors. In Mexico, similar disruptions are possible on Mexican Federal Highways 97, 101, and 180. Secondary and low lying roads could be inundated by floodwater; authorities might close some roads and bridges to traffic, especially those along the coast or in frequently flooded locations of the Greater Houston area. Strong winds will pose a hazard to high-profile vehicles. Flight delays and cancellations are likely at regional airports, including those serving Austin (AUS), Dallas (DFW, DAL), Houston (HOU, IAH), New Orleans (MSY), and San Antonio (SAT).

Temporary port closures are possible in Corpus Christi, Ingleside, Aransas Pass, Harbor Island, Point Comfort, Freeport, Galveston, Texas City, and Houston; offshore logistics will likely be disrupted in the western Gulf. 

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