HOUSTON (AP) — Tropical Depression Imelda has deluged parts of Southeast Texas with rain, but officials in Houston and surrounding communities said Wednesday that so far there have been no severe consequences.
Glenn LaMont, deputy emergency management coordinator in Brazoria County, located south of Houston along the Gulf Coast, said that despite the heavy rainfall he has seen no reports of flooded homes or people stranded. However, he cautioned, "we've got two more days to go on this."
"It's too early to breathe a sigh of relief," LaMont said.
By late Thursday afternoon, most of the heaviest showers had moved to the east of Houston, into Beaumont, Texas, and southwestern Louisiana. But forecasters said the Houston area could still face some heavy rainfall Wednesday night and on Thursday.
Parts of East Texas could get up to 10 inches (254 millimeters) of rain through Thursday morning as the remnants of Imelda continue moving north and away from Houston, according to the National Weather Service.
Coastal counties, including Brazoria, Matagorda and Galveston, got the most rainfall since Imelda formed on Tuesday. Some parts of the Houston area had received nearly 8 inches (203 millimeters) of rain, while the city of Galveston, which had street flooding, had received nearly 9 inches (229 millimeters), according to preliminary rainfall totals released Wednesday afternoon by the National Weather Service.
Sargent, a town of about 2,700 residents in Matagorda County, had received nearly 20 inches (508 millimeters) of rain since Tuesday.
Karen Romero, who lives with her husband in Sargent, said this was the most rain she has had in her neighborhood in her nine years living there.
"The rain (Tuesday) night was just massive sheets of rain and lightning storms. The lightning looked like it was coming in your house," said Romero, 57.
Romero said her home, located along a creek, was not in danger of flooding as it sits on stilts, like many others nearby.
In the Houston area, the rainfall flooded some roadways, stranding drivers, and had caused several creeks and bayous to rise to high levels.
"Even though we've done well overnight, we haven't had any significant amounts of flooding or impacts, we can't let our guard down just yet," said Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist and director of flood operations for the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston.
Many schools in the Houston and Galveston area canceled classes Wednesday. However, the Houston school district, the state's largest, remained open. At least one school district — Galveston — said it was also canceling classes on Thursday.
Imelda, which formed Tuesday, made landfall near Freeport, Texas, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (64.37 kph).
The National Hurricane Center said Imelda had weakened to a tropical depression and was located about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Houston.
But the National Weather Service said flash flood watches remained in effect through Thursday for southeast Texas and southwest 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.
The National Hurricane Center said Wednesday that Hurricane Humberto in the Atlantic Ocean is posing a stronger threat to Bermuda . The Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph (193 kph) was about 195 miles (314 kilometers) from Bermuda on Wednesday afternoon.
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.
Update at 5 a.m.
As Tropical Depression Imelda pummels the Southeast Texas coast, multiple school districts have canceled classes Wednesday, including Goose Creek CISD.
“Due to deteriorating weather conditions affecting safety, all Goose Creek CISD schools and offices will be closed today,” Goose Creek CISD posted on social media platforms.
Barbers Hill is also cancelling school today “due to predictions of excessive rain and a desire to err on the side of safety.”
All Lee College campuses are closed today as well.
Imelda is expected to bring rain and flooding to much of the greater Baytown area through Thursday.
Other districts closed today include Crosby, Channelview, La Porte, Deer Park, and Galena Park.
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 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.
Tropical Storm Imelda came ashore near Freeport Tuesday afternoon, bringing heavy rains to the Houston area — rains that are expected to continue through Friday morning as the system moves northward.
With top sustained winds predicted to be 35 to 40 mph, the greatest threat from the storm being rain-induced flooding in low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service expected a lull in the storm late Tuesday, followed by a wave of heavy rainfall stretching from Harris through Liberty County starting in the early to late morning hours, which could create problems for the morning commute.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said widespread house flooding did not look likely.
“We have a few things in our favor,” he said. “The ground is dry. It’s been dry for a while here as we’ve come through summer. The initial parts of this rainfall will go toward saturating the ground.”
By Tuesday evening, Imelda had produced about two inches of rain across the Baytown and Mont Belvieu area, with 24-hour accumulation ranging from 1.64 inches where Baker Road crosses Goose Creek to 2.12 inches where Highway 146 crosses Goose Creek.
In Mont Belvieu, the HCFCD gauge where Highway 146 crosses Smith Gully recorded 1.76 inches in the same time period.
A press release from Chambers County said 3-day rainfall totals of 6 to 10 inches are likely in the Tuesday-Friday window, with possible heavier accumulations in hard-hit areas.
Isolated road closures are likely, so avoid travel if possible and allow extra time for trips you must take.
Also, watch for traffic lights that are either without power or flashing red in all directions: in either case, treat the intersection as a 4-way stop.
By Tuesday, Baytown police did not report any serious traffic issues related to the storm.
On Tuesday evening, no Baytown-area school districts had announced closings or late starts for Wednesday — check the official website for each district for the latest this morning.
Goose Creek CISD has canceled some sports events. Check official websites for updates and additional cancellations, rescheduling or relocations.