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“Category 4 Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall Near Rockport, Texas”

Earlier tonight Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport TX (northeast of Corpus Christi) with winds of 130 mph and a central pressure of 938 millibars, which makes it the 6th lowest pressure in a hurricane hitting Texas. It’s hard to believe that only 48 hours ago Harvey was just a tropical depression. Early reports from the storm (mostly from people who rode out the storm and are now in the eye of the storm awaiting the second half of the eyewall) are that at least one school has been leveled and that there is significant damage everywhere.  The tide is still coming up, so the storm surge will continue to rise over the next few hours.  Then the flooding begins as Harvey becomes stationary and drops feet of rain over flat, poorly drained land. Here is one story from the Weather Channel at https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/hurricane-harvey-forecast-gulf-coast-texas-louisiana.  There will be many more.

When the sun rises tomorrow we will begin to see how bad the damage from the storm is and, I fear, we will start to find the bodies of those people who did not survive. It’s going to be awful. But with the floods that are expected to come, damage and injuries and deaths will probably continue for at least the next few days. This is almost the worst case scenario for a hurricane, and it shows how quickly the weather can turn and become catastrophic.  You need to be ready in advance because you won’t always have time to prepare once the storm develops!

Tonight in addition to remembering all of the people caught in the storm, I would like to recognize the emergency workers and the National Weather Service meteorologists and other forecasters who are working long and grueling hours and sleeping in cots in their offices to keep us warned about the continuing impacts of the storm and what is likely to come next.  Most of these folks go into work leaving their families and their homes behind to serve all of us with their expertise, not knowing if they will have a home to return to. The National Weather Service is one of the best bargains in government services we have, and it’s a shame that they are under the threat of budget cuts just at a time when their services are so sorely needed and so widely used.