BRIDGEPORT, W. Va. (WDTV) - On the morning of Thursday, August 17, 2017, Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine (soon to be Tropical Storm Harvey) was investigated by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). At this time, the disturbance was found to have maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. Later that evening, Hurricane Hunters confirmed that the disturbance had become Tropical Storm Harvey with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.
As Tropical Storm Harvey began to approach the Windward Islands, Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings were issued for Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Dominica ahead of the storm. By Friday morning, Harvey was forecast to move through the Windward Islands and back into the Caribbean Ocean.
Saturday evening, Harvey was downgraded to a Tropical Depression by the NHC with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and by late Saturday night Harvey degenerated further into a Tropical Wave. All Watches and Warnings were discontinued. Remnants of Harvey were expected to move over the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday bringing heavy rainfall and gusty winds to the area. At this time, the NHC warned that the remnants were forecast to strengthen back into a Tropical Cyclone again by Wednesday or Thursday.
In the early hours of Wednesday, August 23th, the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) was already estimating rainfall totals exceeding 12" over parts of Texas and Louisiana through Monday. Later that day, the NHC confirmed that Harvey did in fact regenerate into a Tropical Depression. Although it was not a well organized system at that point in time, a number of weather models were pointing to rapid intensification as Harvey moved through very warm waters conducive for development. Immediately, the NHC posted Storm Surge, Hurricane, and Tropical Storm Watches for parts of Texas and Mexico. By late Wednesday evening, Hurricane Hunters measured tropical storm force winds of 40 mph in Harvey, and Tropical Depression Harvey became Tropical Storm Harvey.
Less than 12 hours after Tropical Storm Harvey's strengthening, Hurricane and Tropical Storm Watches become Warnings across the Texas coastline. On this same day, things begin to take a turn for the worse as weather models were now predicting that Harvey could become a Major Hurricane (Category 3 or higher) by 7 PM Friday before making landfall in Texas. Tropical Storm Harvey gained Hurricane status on Thursday morning.
Friday afternoon, just hours before landfall, Hurricane Harvey strengthened into a Category 4 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Tornado watches were posted by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) for parts of southeastern Texas and southwest Louisiana in association with Major Hurricane Harvey. At 10 PM CDT, Harvey made its first landfall on U.S. territory near Rockport, TX as a category 4 Major Hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 MPH and a minimum central pressure of 938 mb.
Flash Flood Watches and Warnings were posted all up and down the Texas and Louisiana coastline to send a message about the dangerous and catastrophic flooding that was being seen in association with Harvey. After two days of heavy and life threatening rain and wind, the NWS tweeted, "This event is unprecedented & all impacts are unknown & beyond anything experienced. Follow orders from officials to ensure safety. #Harvey". Throughout the duration of the event neighbor was seen helping neighbor and stranger helping stranger. People from all over the area were seen bringing in boats to help conduct some of the thousands of rescues performed.
When all was said and done, Harvey dumped the heaviest rainfall storm totals from an Tropical Cyclone in U.S. history dating all the way back to 1950. The previous record was set by Tropical Cyclone Amelia in 1978, dropping 48" in Medina, TX. Harvey turned highways into rivers and cities in oceans. Houses were flooded entirely and roofs ripped off of homes. Dozens of tornadoes were reported so far, and the total number has yet to be determined. Harvey now holds the title of the longest Texas hurricane to remain a named storm 96 hours after landfall. See below rainfall totals and peak wind gusts in Texas courtesy of the NWS:
- Cedar Bayou at FM 1942: 51.88"
- Clear Creek at I-45: 49.40"
- Marys Creek at Winding Rd: 49.20"
- Dayton 0.2 E: 46.08"
- Horsepen Creek at Bay Area Blvd: 45.60"
- Port Aransas: 132 mph @ 9:42 PM 08/25
- Copano Village: 125 mph @ 9:57 PM 08/25
- Lamar: 110 mph @ 10:18 PM 08/25
- Rockport: 108 mph @ 8:48 PM 08/25
- Taft: 90 mph @ 6:00 PM 08/25