Houston prepares for heavy rain from Tropical Storm Imelda

Houston — 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.

Imelda made landfall near Freeport, Texas, on Tuesday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for the coast of Texas from Sargent to Port Bolivar. Forecasters said an isolated maximum of 15 inches of rainfall “may produce life-threatening flash floods.”

As of 4 p.m. local time, Imelda was located 30 miles west of Galveston, Texas, and 30 miles south-southeast of Houston, the hurricane center said. It was moving north at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

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Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist for the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston, said the main threat from Imelda remained the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding. Lindner says while there is the potential for some isolated structure flooding in the Houston area, widespread house flooding “doesn’t look likely at this point.”

“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.”

Some parts of Harris County and neighboring Galveston County had already received 2 to 3 inches of rain through Tuesday morning. In a tweet Tuesday, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner asked residents to be “alert and weather aware.”

Governor 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, forecasters said Hurricane Humberto in the Atlantic Ocean is posing a stronger threat to Bermuda, though it was more than 500 miles away. Meteorologists also said newly formed Tropical Storm Lorena in the Pacific Ocean could produce heavy rains and flooding in Mexico by Thursday.

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