Capital Weather Gang • Perspective
We still don’t know how to talk about floods
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After disastrous rain around Beaumont and Port Arthur, Harvey surges inland

As Harvey moved east on Aug. 29, a fire station on Keith Road in Lumberton, Tex. became a staging ground for rescue boats going house-to-house checking in on residents. (Video: Jorge Ribas, Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

Tropical Storm Harvey made its last landfall early Wednesday, just west of Cameron, La., near the border with Texas. Along the way, it has dispensed devastating rainfall in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of southeast Texas, shattering more records. Additional heavy rains are predicted to swell into north central Louisiana on Wednesday and Tennessee and Kentucky on Thursday.

Harvey crashes into Texas and Louisiana, bringing new waves of punishing rain and emergency conditions

Widespread flooding was reported throughout the Beaumont-Port Arthur area Wednesday morning. Floodwater even invaded a shelter, forcing evacuees to move. Bill Karins, meteorologist for MSNBC, tweeted that all roads in and out of Port Arthur were impassable, and that rescues required air support. He added many people were stranded in rising floodwaters and were pleading for help.

Port Arthur’s city manager said almost the entire city was under water.

On Tuesday alone, Beaumont-Port Arthur registered 26.03 inches of rain — including a foot of rain which poured down in just six hours. The 26-plus inches doubled its record for previous wettest day (12.76 inches from May 19, 1923) and even exceeded the most rain in any previous month on record.

Rainfall totals since Friday in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area ballooned to 47.7 inches pushing its annual rainfall to nearly 87 inches – a new record, with one-third of the year still to go.

Moderate to heavy rain continued in the area through midday Wednesday, but finally starting to decrease in the afternoon.

The center of Harvey, positioned 70 miles southwest of Alexandria, La, at 1 p.m. central, was moving to the north-northeast at 8 mph. Its peak winds decreased to around 40 mph and was predicted to weaken to a tropical depression Wednesday night.

Back in Houston, the rain ended before sunset Tuesday, but flooding is expected to persist there for days due to the massive rainfall totals from the most extreme rainfall event on the continental United States in recorded history. While waters in most rivers and bayous had stabilized or were receding, others were still rising, according to Jeff Lindner, meteorologist with the Harris County flood control district.

The forecast

As Harvey lifts off to the northeast, heavy rains are predicted to spread through north central Louisiana on Wednesday and Wednesday night and then into western Tennessee and Kentucky late Thursday into Friday. Widespread amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected in this zone, with localized totals to 3 to 6 inches or more, which could lead to flooding.

Friday into Saturday, remnant rains may affect the Mid-Atlantic, before finally exiting through the Northeast on Sunday.

Rainfall totals

From southeast Texas to Louisiana, the rainfall totals are simply staggering.

The heaviest observed total remain at Cedar Bayou east of Houston, near the town of Mont Belvieu, which posted 51.88 inches, the greatest rainfall from a single storm event in the Lower 48 states on record.

Harvey marks the most extreme rain event in U.S. history

More than 5 million people around Houston received at least 3 feet of rain.