Imelda could bring heavy rainfall, flooding to Houston area
Felipe Morales works on getting his truck out of a ditch filled with high water during a rain storm stemming from rain bands spawned by Tropical Storm Imelda on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Houston. He was able to get help when a man with a truck helped pull him from the ditch. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Clouds hover over downtown Houston ahead of Tropical Storm Imelda Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2019. The storm is forecast to bring heavy rainfall to the upper Texas coast over next few days. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Vehicles splash through heavy water filling Chimney Rock, south of Brays Bayou in Houston, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Officials in the Houston area were preparing high-water vehicles and staging rescue boats Tuesday as Tropical Storm Imelda moved in from the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to dump up to 18 inches of rain in parts of Southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana over the next few days. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
A woman closes her umbrella after getting into her car during a rain storm stemming from rain bands spawned by Tropical Storm Imelda near I-45 and Almeda-Genoa on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Houston. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)/Houston Chronicle via AP
Jeremy Franklin, left, with Mitchell Historic Properties, unloads bags of sand at Texas Scuba Adventures, in Galveston, Texas as he and Chad Sterns prepare for possible flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
Pedestrians hold on to their umbrellas while a gust of wind blows at them at Fanning and Polk Streets as Tropical Storm Imelda makes its way across the Houston area during rush hour on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in downtown Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)
A couple crosses Strand Street in Galveston, Texas during a heavy downpour Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Imelda could cause flooding in Galveston County. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
Linda Orndorff, right, adjusts the hood of Candy Lester’s rain poncho as they explore The Strand in Galveston, Texas on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. The two, from Florida, were trying to make the best of the rainy weather. Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Imelda is expected to soak Galveston County and could cause flooding. (Jennifer Reynolds/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
A pedestrian walks through the patio area of the GreenStreet as Tropical Storm Imelda is making its way across the Houston area during rush hour on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in downtown Houston. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)
HOUSTON (AP) — Tropical Storm Imelda is threatening to dump up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) of rain 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.
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 (130 centimeters) 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 (10 centimeters) of rain through Tuesday afternoon.
The Galveston school district announced it was canceling classes on Wednesday.
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 Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Humberto in the Atlantic Ocean is posing a stronger threat to Bermuda, though it was more than 500 miles (804 kilometers) away. Meteorologists also said newly formed Tropical Storm Lorena in the Pacific Ocean could produce heavy rains and flooding in Mexico by Thursday.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70