Pressures Continue to Fall; Storm Becomes First Major Hurricane of 2017

Hurricaneville continues to monitor conditions along the Texas coast from Brownsville to Galveston as Hurricane Harvey, the third hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, continues to edge closer to the coastline in the Lone Star State, and has now strengthened into the season’s first major hurricane.

As of the 3:00 PM EDT, or 2:00 PM CDT Advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Harvey was located some 75 miles to the East Southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, or about 80 miles to the South of Port O’Connor, Texas. Winds have crossed the threshold of Category Three strength on the Safari-Simpson Scale at 120 miles per hour. The pressure has dropped five more millibars from this morning to 943 millibars, or 27.85 inches of Hg.

Harvey is moving toward the Northwest at 10 miles per hour. Hurricane force winds still extend some 35 miles from the eye, which has become even more pronounced. Tropical storm force winds are still reaching out some 140 miles. Harvey is poised to become the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in almost 12 years (Wilma in October 2005), and the first such storm to come ashore in Texas since 1998 (Bret).

The storm, which according to Homeland Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, Tom Bossert, will affect approximately 4.6 million people, could be the strongest hurricane to affect The Lone Star state since Hurricane Allen in August, 1980. Allen, which had been a Category Five storm at one point in its lifetime, came ashore with a minimum central pressure of 948 millibars. Currently, Harvey is a few millibars lower at 945.

The storm is already producing a tremendous amount of rainfall along the coast. Add to that the fact that Harvey is slowing down, and there is a huge fear of a major deluge in Eastern Texas. Some areas of Texas could get well over a year’s worth of rain. According to a rainfall model shown on CNN, some portions of Eastern Texas could see anywhere between 44 and 52 inches. The National Hurricane Center is calling for rainfall amounts between 15 to 25 inches with isolated areas receiving as much as 35 inches along the middle and upper Texas coast.

Areas in South Texas, the Texas Hill Country, and Southwest and Central Louisiana could still see anywhere from 5 to 15 inches. Storm surge amounts were ranging from 6 to 12 feet along the coast from Padre Island to Sargent. However, with the pressure fall and increase in wind speed, the storm surge values could go up a little bit. Another problem with the storm is that it is quickly closing in on the coast so the window of opportunity to evacuate is closing if it isn’t closed already. The storm’s expected landfall could be late Friday evening rather than early Saturday morning.

Reading the latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center, the current forward motion with Harvey is expected to slow down as a result of “strong mid-level ridging building over the western United States.” Many if not all of the forecast models have the storm slowing down and hovering over Eastern Texas for anywhere up to a week as steering currents in the area of the hurricane break down. This is the reason why rainfall amounts are going to be so significant since the rainfall total is based mostly on how fast the storm is moving.

Residents in Eastern Texas should pay close attention to their local news and radio outlets for updates on the storm, should have a weather radio handy, and have finished up final preparations for the storm. After a dozen years of no landfalling major hurricanes, the United States is about to experience something it hasn’t been used to in quite a while.