Flash Flooding Possible in Texas, New Mexico, Utah as Tropical Storm Harold Weakens to High-Rainfall Tropical Depression

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
August 23, 2023Weather
Flash Flooding Possible in Texas, New Mexico, Utah as Tropical Storm Harold Weakens to High-Rainfall Tropical Depression
A satellite image shows Post-tropical Cyclone Harold in Mexico at 3:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 23, 2023. (CIRA/NOAA)

Tropical storm Harold made landfall in Texas on August 22, but soon weakened to a tropical depression. The storm is forecast, however, to bring heavy rain to the state through late Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Storm warnings were discontinued on Tuesday evening. However, up to 4 inches of rain are expected in parts of Texas through Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The most severely affected areas are expected to lie across the Trans Pecos region, and mainly west of the Big Bend. Isolated instances of flash flooding remain possible in these areas.

Several counties had been issued with flood advisories on Tuesday evening, including Zavala, Maverick, and Dimmit counties. The National Weather Service for the Austin area reported around 4 inches of rain in the area.

The storm initially touched down on Padre Island on Tuesday morning, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

“Tropical Depression Harold and its surrounding moisture is currently pushing westward across far northern Mexico and is expected to produce the potential for flash flooding from West Texas to the Southwest today,” the National Weather Service (NWS) announced Wednesday morning.

“As the showers and thunderstorms continue to circle around the anchored upper high in the central U.S., the remnant tropical moisture is forecast to turn north and enter this part of the country from north-central Mexico, while also pushing into the central Great Basin on Friday.

“Thunderstorms will be capable of containing intense rainfall rates that could lead to rapid runoff and flooding concerns,” the report said.

“To further highlight the threat, a Slight Risk (level 2/4) of Excessive Rainfall has been issued from West Texas to southern New Mexico today and southern Utah on Thursday.”

Texas Responds

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued orders on Aug. 21 to deploy state emergency response resources. The Texas State Emergency Operations Center was activated to “Escalated Response Conditions.”

In a statement, Mr. Abbott said all available resources would be deployed to South Texas ahead of the storm.

“I encourage Texans to remain weather-aware and heed the guidance of state and local officials and emergency management personnel as they work together to keep communities safe,” he added.

Heat Alerts for 22 States

Meanwhile, the NWS reported that the searing August heat wave is forecast to continue through at least the end of this week, with oppressive heat from the central United States to the Gulf Coast.

“High temperatures throughout these areas are forecast to reach into the upper 90s and low 100s through Thursday before a cold front dropping south begins to usher in cooler temperatures over the Upper Midwest on Friday,” the report said. “When factoring in brutal humidity levels, maximum heat indices could approach 120 degrees.”

Heat alerts—which included Excessive Heat Warnings, Watches, and Advisories—have been issued from Minneapolis to New Orleans across an area that includes 22 states and roughly 130 million people, the NWS reported.

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