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"Epic and catastrophic:" Harvey inundates southeast Texas

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HOUSTON – As of late Sunday afternoon, Hurricane Harvey's center was located about 25 miles northwest of Victoria. The storm is barely moving, perhaps with a southeastward drift at 2 mph.

The heaviest rain bands are on Harvey's eastern flank, where onshore flow feeds Gulf of Mexico moisture into the system, and these bands are dropping incredible amounts of rain. Here are the highest 48-hour rain totals through early afternoon for these southeast Texas counties:

Dayton (Liberty County)                                   27.45"
Dixie Farm Road (Brazoria County)                26.76"
Santa Fe (Galvaston County)                          24.50"
Near First Colony (Fort Bend County)           24.34"
Near Pearland (Harris County)                       24.27"
Near Bacliff (Maritime Station)                      18.75"
Near Magnolia (Montgomery County)         17.80"
Near Carmine (Washington County)             16.95"
7 Miles E of Ellinger(Colorado County)        16.50"
Mont Belvieu (Chambers County)                 16.27"
Near Coldspring (San Jacinto County)           14.19"
New Ulm (Austin County)                               14.16"
Near Katy (Waller County)                              13.42"
Near Boling-iago (Wharton County)              13.16"
Near Bay City (Matagorda County)               13.03"
11 Miles WSW of Huntsville (Walker County)  12.20"

These would be unbelievably impressive rainfall totals to report if this event was over, but it's not over. And it won't end anytime soon due to Harvey's slow movement, which will keep us on its eastern side. 

That eastern side is also where we remain in conditions conducive to tornadoes, and there have been plenty of tornadoes (and rotating storms that didn't produce tornadoes) today, including one tornado that hit a mile south of Stafford (Fort Bend County) which caused considerable damage to a residential area. 

As long as we have intense rain bands moving through the area, we also have to be cognizant of the fact that any one of them could produce a tornado.

Here is the raw output from our in-house, high-resolution 4 km RPM model, with each time labeled at the top of each image:

12:00 PM Monday

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6:00 PM Monday

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12:00 AM Tuesday

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There are several things to notice in these images. First, you'll see how Harvey's extremely slow movement continues... there's no "giddy-up" with this storm. Second, we remain on the storm's eastern flank through the day on Monday. Third, as described above, this keeps us in the area of intense rain bands at least through Monday. Finally, notice that Harvey's slow drift to the southeast takes it back near the coast. This closer proximity to the warm Gulf waters may allow it to maintain its strength, or even strengthen a bit more. 

The bottom line for us is rain. Here's what our RPM model is projecting for rain amounts from mid-afternoon Sunday through midnight Tuesday: 

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Notice that areas especially from Houston northward and eastward could still receive an ADDITIONAL 16-20 inches of rain. 

Incredible flooding that we are experiencing now could become even worse. As such, Emergency Management officials have requested that people escaping flood waters as a last resort not stay in the attic. If the highest floor of your home becomes dangerous, get on the roof, call 911 for help and stay on the line until answered. A few inches of water in your home is NOT an emergency. Only if conditions become life-threatening all the way up to your highest floor should you escape to the roof.

However, remember that conditions are sometimes so bad that first responders cannot rescue you. This sobering message from Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills, as tweeted by Andrea Butera, says it all: 

"We took calls in the middle of the night that we weren't able to respond to, and that's a tough deal in this profession, to have hysterical people on the phone pleading for help and saying 'I'm sorry, but we can't -- the risk outweighs our expectation to do anything about it."

Several days ago, the KPRC2 Severe Weather Team saw this event unfolding, and struggled with what language to use to convey to you -- without making it sound like hype or sensationalism -- how devastating the flooding would be. Now, the National Weather Service, which is ultra-consistent in the conservative nature of its messaging, is using words like "epic," "catastrophic," "unprecedented," "devastating" and "life-threatening." 

In fact, National Weather Service headquarters earlier today tweeted out that "This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced."

This is a long duration event that won't end soon. The KPRC2 Severe Weather Team and Click2Houston.com are working around the clock to provide you with everything you need to know. 

Stay with us as Harvey inundates southeast Texas.


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