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Hurricane Harvey Is Expected To Dump Much Rain Along Its Path


We are closely monitoring Hurricane Harvey, which could hit the Texas Gulf Coast. It is expected to hit land as early as tonight as a category three hurricane with a storm surge that could reach 12 feet. Forecasters think some places will be measuring rainfall in feet and not inches. Houston is the biggest city in the storm's path. And we have Eric Berger on the line via Skype. He's a meteorologist who runs the blog Space City Weather. Eric Berger, it sounds like this could be a big storm.

ERIC BERGER: Yeah. Good morning, David. Obviously it's a big concern here in Texas. We've got a couple threats from Harvey. We've got the landfall itself. And then over the next week or so, we've got the threat of inland rain.

GREENE: A week or so, I mean, the impact could last that long.

BERGER: Well, the problem is that the storm is going to make landfall probably, you know, early tomorrow morning near Corpus Christi along the central Texas coast. And then it's going to basically - the steering currents are going to fall off. And it's not clear where it's really going to go. Eventually it's probably going to get pulled to the northeast toward Houston, Louisiana. But if that takes three or four days, you know, that process, that's a lot of rain.

GREENE: You're saying a steering system, I just want to make sure I have that clear that this thing could basically, because nothing is moving it that fast, it could sit over a portion of Texas for a while and just dump a lot of moisture.

BERGER: Yeah, essentially in the big picture, it's coming into Texas and running into some high pressure, which is going to block it from moving further to the northwest. And then you essentially got a situation where you've got a marble sitting on a table top, flat table top and it's - you're not sure where it's going to roll for a few days. And all the while, it's pulling moisture from the Gulf and dropping all of this rain.

GREENE: Forecasters like yourself are suggesting that some places might get almost three feet of rain. I mean, that seems like - that's just extraordinary even for a big hurricane.

BERGER: It's not historically unprecedented. So it's certainly possible, especially with a slow-moving system like this. I think you may see that in some isolated areas. For the most part, (laughter) this sounds crazy but, you know, it's probably only going to be about two feet of rain. Unfortunately, that's still going to be enough to cause widespread, you know, devastating flooding for lots of areas.

GREENE: So what do you advise people when it comes to, I mean, dealing with winds, storm surge, potential flooding. What should people be doing right now?

BERGER: So if you're in the central Texas coast like Corpus Christi or about 100 miles north of there, you need to heed your mandatory evacuation orders because the wind and storm surge over the next 24 hours are going to be quite high. This is a category three hurricane as forecast. For Houston, you know, the winds aren't going to be that bad and the rains aren't going to be that bad for the next day or two. But then they're going to pick up Sunday and Monday and Tuesday most likely.

And you can't really do a whole lot to prepare for a flood. You can buy bottled water. You can buy, you know, food and hope to kind of ride out the rising floodwaters. This isn't a situation like New Orleans where, you know, the city's a bowl and it fills up and then, you know, doesn't drain. Houston will drain after the rains stop. But, you know, you've got flood waters coming into homes in the meantime.

GREENE: OK, especially for our listeners in Texas, get ready as this hurricane is approaching on the Gulf Coast. It could be the first major hurricane to hit the United States in 12 years. That was Eric Berger, a meteorologist in Houston and editor of Space City Weather. Thanks so much.

BERGER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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