HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — One-time Tropical Storm Imelda hovers over Southeast Texas with winds approaching 50 miles an hour and dumping heavy rains.
The system is prompting some school districts along the Texas Gulf Coast to cancel classes today and it may affect weather in North Texas too.
As it stands Houston is being pelted with heavy rain and the now tropical depression is threatening to dump up to 18 inches in parts of Southeast Texas and Southwestern Louisiana over the next few days.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist and director of flood operations for the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston, said the main threat from Imelda remained the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding.
“We have a few things in our favor. The ground is dry. It’s been dry for a while here as we’ve come through summer,” Lindner said. “The initial parts of this rainfall will go toward saturating the ground.”
Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, said the Houston area and parts of the upper Texas coast and East Texas could get significant rainfall through Thursday as the storm moves north. Imelda’s rain bands were also stretching into Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center said early Wednesday that Imelda had weakened to a tropical depression and was located about 25 miles north-northwest of Houston.
Imelda is the first named storm to impact the Houston area since Hurricane Harvey , according to the National Weather Service. Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches of rain on parts of the flood prone city in August 2017, flooding more than 150,000 homes in the Houston area and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas.
While there could be some isolated structure flooding in the Houston area, widespread house flooding from Imelda “doesn’t look likely at this point,” Lindner said.
However, he said residents who live in flood prone areas should still be mindful and take extra precautions.
Officials in the Houston area were preparing high-water vehicles and staging rescue boats Tuesday.
The storm, which formed Tuesday, made landfall near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Some parts of Harris County and neighboring Galveston County had already received about 4 inches of rain through Tuesday afternoon.
Many schools in the Houston and Galveston area canceled classes Wednesday because of the storm. As of Wednesday morning the following 10 districts have cancelled classes:
- Channelview ISD
- Pasadena ISD
- Galena Park ISD
- Sheldon ISD
- Santa Fe ISD
- Alvin ISD
- Cleveland ISD
- Texas City ISD
- Brazosport ISD
- La Porte ISD
All #HISD schools & district offices will operate under normal schedules today (9/18). No closures/delays. All after-school activities & athletic events are cancelled. We will continue to monitor weather conditions today & will keep you informed of any impacts to schedules.
— Houston ISD (@HoustonISD) September 18, 2019
As of Wednesday morning students in the Houston Independent School District were still expected to report to class. HISD sent a tweet saying that schools and district offices “will operate under normal schedules today.” The district didi cancel after-school activities and athletic events.
In a tweet Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked residents to be “alert and weather aware.”
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday placed numerous resources on standby across Texas. The Texas Division of Emergency Management will be rostering four boat squads in coastal areas. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be moving boats to support the Beaumont area and adjacent regions.
Meanwhile Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Humberto in the Atlantic Ocean is posing a stronger threat to Bermuda. The Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph was about 240 miles from Bermuda on Wednesday morning. Tropical Storm Jerry became the 10th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, though it remained far from land Wednesday. Meteorologists also said newly formed Tropical Storm Lorena in the Pacific Ocean could produce heavy rains and flooding in Mexico by Thursday.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)