Hurricane Harvey Wreaks More Havoc on Texas Travel
Friday night around 10pm Central Time, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, packing top sustained winds of 130 mph. This makes it the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charlie in 2004 — a storm that caused over $15 billion in damage. For reference, the devastating Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005 with 125 mph top winds.
However, unlike with most hurricanes which sweep through an area before moving onward, Hurricane Harvey's story is far from over. The storm is predicted to stall out over South Texas, dumping truly biblical amounts of rain. A wide swath of Texas is predicted to get over 20 inches of rain, with some parts in the warning area likely receiving over 40 inches. The latest National Hurricane Center statement doesn't mince words: "Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding is expected across the middle and upper Texas coast."
For comparison, two years ago, Austin airport received an influx of 14 inches of rain in one day, including six inches in one hour. It was bad enough to cause substantial damage to the airport's radar systems, shutting down the airport for hours and limiting traffic in and out of the airport for months. With many areas of Texas facing double this amount of rain, similar damage could be inflicted over the next few days.
In addition to water falling from the sky, the coast north of the center of the eye will continue to be at risk from rising waters. As the circulation continues to churn, more of the Gulf waters will continue to be funneled into these beaches. Forecasts predict up to 12 feet of storm surge in areas just north of the circulation (Port Aransas to Port O'Connor). One video appeared Saturday morning showing how the winds are pushing water ashore:
Due to the flooding and continued wind damage, it's safe to say that travel through the area will continue to be affected for at least a few days.
Cancellations continue to pile up at Houston airports. Already today, Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport has chalked up 69 cancellation for departing flights and 68 more cancellations on inbound flights — accounting for about 12% of flights. The airport had to briefly suspend incoming flights Saturday morning due to winds, but is operational again at 10:30 local time. Houston's Hobby airport has seen 102 cancellations at mid-morning Saturday, about 35% of scheduled flights:
Corpus Christi and Valley International Airport outside Harlingen are faring much worse, with more than two thirds of scheduled flights cancelled already for Saturday.
The flights that aren't cancelled are having to battle winds and strong rain, forcing go-arounds and diversions:
If you're stuck in the area without a place to stay, remember that Airbnb is waiving booking fees. And hosts are stepping up to help. As of this writing, 124 hosts are offering completely-free housing options for Hurricane Harvey evacuees:
If you're in the area, make sure that you are cautious of the flooding. Move to higher ground if necessary. And remember to never drive through flooded roads. Heed the Texas saying "Turn around, don't drown."
And whatever you do, leave the gators alone: