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As Cindy Tracks West, Houston Now Under Tropical Storm Watch

As Cindy Tracks West, Houston Now Under Tropical Storm Watch
Courtesy NOAA
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UPDATE, 12:45 p.m.: The National Weather Service has officially named the storm Tropical Storm Cindy. Forecasters say rain, not wind, is the most menacing threat.

UPDATE, 11:15 a.m.: The storm that would become Cindy has now tracked west. Forecasters have placed Houston and Galveston under a tropical storm watch. A tropical storm warning extends from Beaumont east to New Orleans.

A broad area of low pressure in the south central Gulf of Mexico is threatening the central Gulf Coast by Wednesday evening. If it develops into a tropical storm, it would be named Tropical Storm Cindy, but even if it doesn't, it is expected to produce torrential rains across a fairly wide area.

Where this disturbance makes landfall is particularly critical because of the nature of tropical systems. Tropical disturbances, because of their counterclockwise rotation, push the worst of their weather to the east of the center of circulation. In a very large disturbance such as this one, areas even 100 miles west of the center can remain completely dry while the eastern side of the storm gets huge amounts of rain.

Such is the case with would-be Cindy. The oblong storm system is moving north-northwest at the moment and that motion is expected to continue, with perhaps a slight turn to the west-northwest at some point in the forecast period. That is because of the complex upper-level conditions across the United States.

There are a pair of high-pressure systems moving across the country. This system will move in between the two of them. The sooner the easternmost high skirts to the East Coast, the more northward the turn in the storm.

Looking at the National Hurricane Center's official forecast track, forecasters expect the storm to make landfall somewhere between Galveston Island and central Louisiana as a tropical storm late on Wednesday. The closer it gets to our area, the better our chances of rain, but if the forecast holds true, we are unlikely to see much, while areas east of us could be in for significant flooding, even to the degree of the historic floods of 2016.

Any shift to the west would place us at greater risk for a significant rainfall event, so this storm definitely bears watching.

The good news is that it is not expected to intensify further than a tropical storm. The bad news is, when it comes to rain, that might not matter very much.

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