Tropical Storm Harold was pushing inland over Texas on Tuesday with gusty winds and pounding rain, bringing much-needed moisture to the drought-stricken state but also threatening tornadoes and flash flooding.
The storm, which made landfall on a barrier island off the coast of Texas earlier in the day, was moving at about 21 mph over southern Texas and northern Mexico, the National Hurricane Center said. It’s the first tropical storm of the hurricane season to make landfall in the state.
Harold, dubbed “Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine” until reaching tropical storm strength early Tuesday, could slam South Texas with up to 7 inches of rain into Wednesday, said Richard Pasch, a senior meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center. A “couple” tornadoes are possible across south Texas through the afternoon, he said.
AccuWeather said some localized areas could see a foot of rain.
“The exact track of the rain in Texas will depend on the organization of the system prior to pushing inland,” AccuWeather’s lead hurricane forecaster Dan Kottlowski said.
The storm made landfall on Padre Island earlier Tuesday and was centered about 15 miles east of Laredo, Texas, as of 4 p.m. local time. Harold, driving sustained winds of 35 mph, was headed west-northwest.
“The good news is that the bulk of this rainfall will be beneficial for the drought-stricken region,” weather service forecaster William Churchill said. “But too much rainfall too fast could lead to isolated, scattered instances of flash flooding.”
◾ More than 12,000 power outages were recorded, concentrated on Padre Island and the Southside, according to AEP.
◾ A tropical storm warning was in effect for the mouth of Rio Grande to Port O’Connor, 150 miles southwest of Houston.
◾ A tropical storm watch was in effect for Port O’Connor to Sargent, less than 100 miles northeast of Port O’Connor.
The Corpus Christi area saw 3 to 5 inches of rain on Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the storm was beginning to leave the Coastal Bend, the region of Texas that curves along the Gulf Coast, and heading toward the Rio Grande Plains and the South Texas Brush Country, the weather service said.
Brush Country had already gotten between 1 and 2.5 inches of rain by early afternoon.
Storm formed in just 39 hours, hitting record
Harold broke a long-standing record Tuesday morning, becoming the fourth named storm to form in just 39 hours, said Phil Klotzbach, a seasonal hurricane forecaster at Colorado State University.
It broke a record set in 1893 and equaled in 1980, Klotzbach said. Harold is the 9th official storm of the season, including an unnamed storm in January.
Klotzbach said only six other years have experienced nine or more storms by Aug. 22: 1936, 1995, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2020.
− Dinah Voyles Pulver
Harold is the ninth official storm of the season in the Atlantic, of what meteorologists at Colorado State University predict will be 18 named storms by the time the season closes in November. Nine are expected to reach hurricane strength.
Though Harold is the eighth named storm, it was later determined that another subtropical storm in January should have been given a name.
Most forecasters think the 2023 hurricane season will be busier than usual; an average year sees about 14 named storms and about seven rise to hurricane level. That’s probably because of extremely warm ocean water in the Atlantic where storms like to form, forecasters said.
According to AccuWeather, the three most active months for hurricanes in the Atlantic are August, September and October.
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE:Here are the latest forecasts for the 2023 season.
The National Weather Service in Corpus Christi issued a slew of tornado warnings in cities and counties along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and inland until early afternoon as Harold made its way west and northwest.
“As Tropical Storm #Harold moves inland tornadoes and flash flooding have been the main concern,” the weather service said in a social media post. Pea-size hail was also possible.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s campus also said via email it has extended remote work operations through the end of day Tuesday.
Track the path of Tropical Storm Harold
Across Mexico, rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches, with local amounts of 10 inches, are expected across portions of northern Coahuila and northern Nuevo Leon Tuesday through Wednesday.
Harold was a tropical rainstorm when it brought drenching downpours and gusty thunderstorms to the Bahamas late last week and parts of the Florida Peninsula this weekend, AccuWeather reported. The Florida Keys were swamped by up to 3 inches of rain while drought-stricken areas along the west coast of the Florida Peninsula picked up 0.25 to 1 inch.
Hilary leaves behind flooding, mud − and isn’t done yet
The digout from the remnants of Hurricane Hilary was in full swing across much of the Southwest after the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in almost a century swept north, threatening parts of Oregon and Idaho with torrential rains. The National Weather Service warned that “life threatening and locally catastrophic flooding” remained a possibility for a swath of the West from Oregon to the Rocky Mountains.
Near Palm Springs, California, 14 seniors were pulled from a Cathedral City home care facility Monday in a dramatic rescue the city’s fire chief said was unlike anything he had ever done in his 34-year career. The seniors were among the 46 people who required rescue after a mudflow Sunday night trapped several people in cars, homes and even a train. Hilary had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived in the Palm Springs area but still dropped over 3 inches of rain across the valley, flooding low-lying desert roads and damaging some homes.
− Paul Albani-Burgio, Palm Springs Desert Sun
Tropical Storm Franklin was “drifting slowly” with no change in intensity early Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. The storm, with sustained winds of 50 mph, was centered about 250 miles south of the Dominican Republic and headed toward the island of Hispaniola the Dominican shares with Haiti. A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southern coasts of both nations, and some areas could see more than a foot of rain through Wednesday, the weather service said. Parts of Puerto Rico could get up to 6 inches.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Corpus Christi-Caller Times; The Associated Press