The forecast for the Houston area continues to worsen as the National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for Harris and Galveston counties as Tropical Storm Cindy churns toward the Texas coast.
The Houston area can now expect sustained winds from 39 to 73 miles per hour, with rain totals ranging from three to six inches. The National Hurricane Center warned that Cindy could cause "life-threatening flash floods" on the Gulf Coast, but expects the worst rainfall to occur in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
Forecasters expect Cindy to make landfall around daybreak on Thursday as the first tropical storm to strike Texas this year. As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the storm was 360 miles southeast of Galveston and had maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour.
The announcement draws a stark contrast to just 24 hours ago, when forecasters predicted the storm, an unnamed, slow-moving low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico, would strike mostly east of Houston.
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By Tuesday morning, as the storm tracked west, forecasters named it Cindy — the third named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. A hurricane warning extended from the New Orleans area of Louisiana west to near Beaumont, with a watch stretching from that point along the coast to Galveston.
That tropical storm watch was upgraded to a warning Tuesday afternoon. Governor Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to upgrade its readiness level and dispatched four Texas Task Force boats and ten Texas Military Department vehicles to respond to any emergencies related to the storm.
“I have directed Texas emergency personnel to prepare to respond as Tropical Storm Cindy prepares to make landfall along the Gulf Coast,” Abbott said in a statement. “As we have learned in the past, weather patterns can change rapidly and without warning. That is why I am imploring all Texans in the Gulf region to stay updated and heed warnings from your local officials, avoid high water areas and refrain from attempting to drive through roadways or over bridges that have the potential to flood.”
The Houston Press will have continuous coverage of Tropical Storm Cindy throughout the week.