Tropical Storm Bill will move across Texas with torrential rainfall, and will bring with it renewed concerns for major flooding in the South Central states.
The eye of the tropical storm has moved over Matagorda Island (TX), during the middle of the day Tuesday. This storm will slowly move on a curved trajectory to the northwest, and then through the north of the state through Wednesday.
The biggest concerns with Tropical Storm Bill are increased potential for flooding, and heavy rainfall. Tropical storm warnings are still in effect from Baffin Bay, which is just south of Corpus Christi, to High Island, which is just north of Galveston.
A voluntary evacuation order was issued early on Monday for the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas which borders Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. If you own a small craft, then it is important that you keep your vessel within the protection of coastal waters throughout Tuesday. Also, it is imperative for motorists to avoid any low-lying coastal roads, as these will be the most likely to flood on Tuesday night until the storm moves far enough inland.
Bill will have enough strength to cause strong rip currents and rough surf through Tuesday night, and there is also a heightened potential for severe storms in the region; even water spouts and tornadoes can’t be ruled out just yet. The greatest threat for a tornado will be anywhere that is located to the northeast of the Tropical Storm’s center.
People living along the Texas and Louisiana coasts should be alert, as fast-moving squalls will be rotating onshore throughout the evening and night hours on Tuesday.
The strongest winds will be located east of Bill’s track, where gusts of around 70 mph will be possible into the late afternoon. The gusts will most definitely be strong enough to cause downed trees, power outages, and some structural damage. The east to southeast flow has caused water to pile up along the Louisiana and Texas coasts since the early weekend, and this could cause the water levels to rise 4 feet above their published levels.
Water levels of this magnitude are not serious, but they can still cause some minor disturbances such as beach erosion and coastal flooding.
Typically, tropical storms will weaken quite quickly once making landfall due to the dry air getting rid of the moisture that it needs to grow stronger. But, the recent rain and waterlogged landscape could cause this system to take on a more gradual weakening trend.
Even though the strong winds will be generally focused at the coast, there could still be a chance that these gusts could continue inland due to the intensity of the storm.
Tropical Storm Bill will funnel large amounts of moisture into an area that has already seen copious amounts of rainfall in May. Flooding from that rainfall will continue along some of the rivers in parts of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.
This rainfall will result in flooding across the central and eastern parts of Texas through Wednesday, with a concentration in the cities Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Houston public schools have closed today as a precautionary measure.
The greatest flood risk will occur from Tuesday and Thursday, and it will be focused on the upper Texas coast, central and northeastern Texas, and central and eastern Oklahoma. Most of these locations will more than likely experience double-digit rainfall this week. This will only add to the 1-2 feet of rain that was dumped over the region during May.
A swath of rainfall averaging from 6-10 inches will extend as far north as southern Missouri, with locally heavier amounts possible. Unfortunately, the heavy rain will not end as it reaches the Southern Plains and middle Mississippi Valley. Rain that is consistent enough to cause flooding will move into parts of the Midwest and even the East as we reach the end of the week.