U.S. & WORLD

Update: Storm Chances Decreasing For Incoming System, But Still Heavy Rain

May 21, 2021

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***PM Update: A well-defined low pressure area is approaching the Texas coast and is now about 50 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi.  Surface observations and satellite wind data indicate that the system continues to produce winds of about 35 mph near and to the east of its center, but the associated shower and thunderstorm activity remains limited. Since the low is expected to move inland during the next several hours, the chances of it becoming a tropical depression or storm are decreasing.  Regardless of development, the system could produce heavy rainfall over portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana today. Given the complete saturation of soils with ongoing river flooding along the Texas and Louisiana coastal areas, heavy rain could lead to flash, urban, and additional riverine flooding across this region.   Additional information on the rainfall and flooding potential can be found in products issued by your local National Weather Service Forecast Office. * Formation chance through 48 hours...low...30 percent. * Formation chance through 5 days...low...30 percent.

Earlier...

This disturbance is expected to move inland by late Friday night in between Corpus Christi, Texas, and Houston, churning at the same time as another system that has a high chance to become a named storm near Bermuda before the start of the weekend.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – May 21, 2021 –  A historic deluge of rain this week unleashed serious flooding across portions of Texas and Louisiana, leaving roads underwater and leading to high water rescues. Now, before the week is over, more unwanted news is in store for the region. A tropical system could develop in the western Gulf of Mexico by Friday afternoon, and move into the Texas coast Friday evening.

From the National Hurricane Center:

Recent satellite imagery suggests that a low-level circulation is forming associated with the mid- to upper-level disturbance over the western Gulf of Mexico. However, shower and thunderstorm activity remains disorganized. Environmental conditions are expected to be marginally conducive for development, and a short-lived tropical depression or storm could form before the disturbance moves inland over the northwestern Gulf coast tonight. Regardless of development, the system could produce heavy rainfall over portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana during the next few days. 

Some of the flood-stricken areas are among those still recovering from several tropical strikes during the record-shattering 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. AccuWeather forecasters warn that additional rounds of heavy rain from a possible tropical system will threaten some of the communities that have already been hardest-hit by flooding this week. The impacts of this weeks excessive onslaught of rainfall are likely to continue well into next week.

Early Thursday morning, a band of heavy rain and storms inundated portions of eastern and central Louisiana, an area that, up until Wednesday night, had missed out on the most persistent rain. By Thursday night the rain and thunderstorms retreated back over the Gulf of Mexico and began to shift back west and show signs of rotation. The disturbance has a high chance of developing into an organized tropical system by later Friday, AccuWeather forecasters say.

“Conditions are conducive enough for tropical development in the western Gulf of Mexico,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller said. However, it will have to become better organized quickly, since it will track inland by the evening.

This disturbance is expected to move inland by late Friday night in between Corpus Christi, Texas, and Houston. This disturbance is churning at the same time as another system that has a high chance to become a named storm near Bermuda before the start of the weekend. The first two names on the list for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season are Ana and Bill. Whichever storm strengthens enough to become a named system first will be given the name Ana.

Miller warned that regardless of the extent of tropical development, heavy downpours and thunderstorms would once again target southeast Texas and western Louisiana into Friday night.


A swirl of clouds can be seen in the western Gulf of Mexico Friday morning as a tropical system tries to take shape. (RAMMB/CIRA)

Several additional inches of rain could fall Friday afternoon through Friday night in areas that have already picked up nearly 20 inches of rain near the coastline of southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.

Even after the disturbance in the Gulf moves inland Friday night, downpours can persist into Saturday and are likely to focus on the areas that have already been doused over and over again this week, AccuWeather forecasters say.

"The threat for rounds of rain will continue across western Louisiana and eastern Texas through Saturday before drier conditions prevail," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys.

This week, widespread rainfall amounts of 4 to 8 inches have already fallen along parts of the Gulf Coast, in cites like Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Houston, to as far inland as Dallas, Oklahoma City and Little Rock.

The intense rainfall led to flooding and forced high water rescues and closed roadways. At least five people were killed amid the flooding, according to Louisiana Department of Health.

The cities of Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, have been among the hardest hit, and both cities picked up more than 14 inches of rain since Sunday.

In fact, Lake Charles has already had the city's third wettest May on record after this week's rain. The unrelenting wet weather this week added to the string of extreme events that have affected the city in the past year.

Another 2-4 inches of rainfall, with locally higher amounts once again with the threat of an organized tropical system in the picture, is likey in this area Friday and Saturday, exacerbating the ongoing flooding disaster.

More flooding of roadways, especially those near waterways, is expected to continue. Forecasters and officials urge motorists to avoid driving through flooded roadways, and follow the guidance of "turn around, don't drown." The additional rain will also push up water levels of rivers and streams.

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