Heavy rain expected with potential for flooding

January 8, 2013 8:58:23 PM PST
The city of Houston is mobilizing the Office of Emergency Management with more rain on the way, bringing the possibility of street flooding overnight and into the morning.

Flash Flood Watches are in effect for our entire area through Wednesday evening.

KTRK Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller says another round could move into southeast Texas overnight, potentially causing problems during the morning rush hour.

"The best advice is if you don't have to be out then stay at home, where you're safe," said Janice Evans, the spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office. "If it's in the morning and it's time for you to start going to work, monitor the weather reports, monitor the TV reports, monitor the radio reports. Get an idea before you leave the house what's going on so that you know if you need to make changes in your route and the way that you get to work."

Heller says thundershowers could be a problem during the afternoon and early evening, with some stronger storms producing damaging winds and large hail. There's also a slight risk of isolated tornadoes, but the primary threat is street flooding.

On Tuesday, we saw periods of heavy rain and storms pull up from the Gulf, and some neighborhoods had 1-2 inches of rain. Paul Basile, our Eyewitness Storm Spotter in Conroe, reported 2.23 inches of rain. Lee Sulecki in Tomball said he had 2 inches of rain at the Rosehill Fire Department near Tomball. Kathy Parker says 1.82 inches fell around Lake Livingston. And Linda Manvel reported 1.40 inches in Manvel.

Another 2-5 inches of rain could fall in southeast Texas over the next 24 hours, and street flooding is likely throughout the day.

The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management (OEM) partially activated the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on Tuesday. Personnel from OEM, Houston Police Department, Houston Fire Department, and Public Works and Engineering are staying at the EOC throughout the night and as long as needed Wednesday.

It's important to know that the Harris County Flood Control District is preparing for widespread street flooding.

Jeff Linder, meteorologist with Harris County Flood Control says, "Current thinking as of now is that most of the Harris County bayous and creeks will be able to handle three to four inches of rainfall, with rainfall above this magnitude starting to cause some concerns for the smaller watersheds of Halls Bayou and South Mayde Creek."

It doesn't take much rain to cause a problem. Even the moderate rain that fell this morning on Beltway 8 was cited by police as a factor in a fatal crash involving a motorcycle.

The Texas Department of Transportation encourages motorists to slow down and never cross flooded roadways. Flash flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in Texas. As little as six inches of water can float some vehicles. If drivers encounter a flooded road, TxDOT reminds you to Turn Around, Don't Drown.

Any time multiple inches of rain are expected in a short period of time, the Harris Co. Flood Control District monitors the levels at places where previous storms have caused headaches.

"This morning we've already got an inch of rain in 15 minutes on a couple of gauges. The storms have moved on, but that is what we expect could happen later on today. That kind of rainfall causes a lot of street flooding. We're concerned about it during the rush hour traffic this afternoon as well," said Steve Fitzgerald, Chief Engineer with the Harris Co. Flood Control District.

To report flooding that is threatening homes or businesses in your area, you can contact the Flood Control District at 713-684-4000. Harris County residents can monitor rainfall amounts and bayou levels on the HCFCD Flood Warning website.

We'll keep you updated on air and online. Weather warnings are posted as soon as they are issued on the ABC13Weather Twitter page. You can also follow @HellerWeather Facebook and Twitter pages for analysis of the storms as they develop.

Also, the city of Houston has an alert system that notifies residents of emergencies via email.
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