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Tropical Storm Bill Moves Inland, Bringing Flood Potential To Many

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Tropical Storm Bill officially made landfall over Matagorda Island, Texas on Tuesday morning, but that may have been just the start of the problems from the Atlantic’s second tropical cyclone of the season.

Flooding rains are the overwhelming concern with Bill, even as it has already begun to weaken while moving over the southeast Texas coastline. Rain totals through Tuesday afternoon appeared to be mostly concentrated on Houston’s east side, with 2.34″ of rain recorded at Houston’s Bush Airport and radar estimates of over 3″ in the eastern suburbs of the city. More rain is expected to fill in through the Texas coastline during the evening and into Wednesday morning, and Flash Flood Watches were posted for much of eastern Texas through Wednesday in anticipation of the flood potential across the state.

As of the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) 5pm EDT update, Bill was moving at 9 miles-per-hour (MPH), a relatively slow rate of speed that could enhance flood concerns across the Texas coastline and eventually up the I-35 corridor into San Antonio, Austin, Waco and Dallas, and eventually Oklahoma as well. The National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Tuesday characterized the flood potential this week as “life threatening”, mostly due to the unusually saturated ground from the wettest month on record in both Oklahoma and Texas.

Storm surge was an issue in Port Lavaca, Texas in particular on Tuesday morning. A four-foot surge (three-and-a-half feet higher than expected) flooded a pier in the city of 12,000 people, and minor storm surge flooding was also reported in Galveston, Texas. Bill officially made landfall at 11:45am CDT over Matagorda Island, Texas with maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH. With Bill moving inland, however, the storm surge threat is rapidly diminishing, although gusty winds may stay in place as the storm moves further inland.Heavy rain was already falling in Dallas-Fort Worth, with the worst of the storm expected there on Wednesday morning.

By mid-week, a ‘ring of fire’ area of high pressure is expected to sweep the storm and move it into Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and eventually the Northeast urban corridor, bringing with it a chance for flooding along virtually the entire length of Bill’s track. The ‘ring of fire’ is a reference to a strong and nearly stationary area of high pressure centered in the southeast U.S., but clockwise winds circling the high, responsible for persistent storms and rain across many of the listed regions, will steer Bill’s remnants towards the same areas and increasing flood potential in those regions. Flash flooding has already been an issue from Missouri to Illinois and even New York, making the addition of tropical moisture a possible trigger for flooding in those areas.

Stay with WeatherNation and for the latest on the storm.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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