For portions of rain-battered Texas, the warnings issued by the National Weather Service on Sunday must have seemed like a cruel joke: a tropical storm that is potentially forming in the Gulf of Mexico is headed straight for them.
“Through Wednesday, widespread rainfall totals could easily average 6 to 8 inches with some amounts exceeding 10 inches,” read the ominous forecast issued by the weather service office in Houston. “This will obviously lead to a dangerous flood situation.”
Local officials sounded even more alarmed, calling the event “possibly catastrophic.”
“While high winds and even tornadoes are possible, already wet grounds mean that even a moderate amount of rain will likely cause street flooding,” warned Harris County Emergency Management. “Bayous and rivers could go out of banks quickly creating a serious threat to life and property.”
“This could be the second major flooding event for Texas in less than a month,” said CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray. “This disturbance will move over portions of Texas that are already so saturated…more flash flooding will be a concern.”
Texas set a new rainfall record for in May, almost two times the state’s average and the most in any month ever. More than 37 trillion gallons of water fell on the state in May, according to the National Weather Service, enough to cover every bit of the state with ankle-deep water.
The consequences have been deadly. Widespread flooding has claimed at least 23 lives statewide since Memorial Day weekend.
The threat isn’t limited to the Lone Star State.
“A lot of moisture will be pumping into Louisiana as well,” explained Gray. “As the storm moves north, flooding near the Red River — which is already swollen to its limits — will be just as much a concern.”