HOUSTON – A tropical disturbance moving inland over southeastern Texas will fuel a flood threat as far east as southwestern Louisiana into the start of the Fourth of July weekend.
The disturbance, identified as Invest 95L by the National Hurricane Center, is no longer expected to develop into a tropical depression since it's now over land, but heavy rain will remain a concern regardless of what the system is called by meteorologists.
An invest is simply a naming convention used by the NHC to identify an area of weather that it is investigating for possible development into a tropical depression or tropical storm within the next five days.
A Hurricane Hunter aircraft flew into the disturbance on Thursday and determined the system had not organized into a tropical depression before reaching the middle Texas coast.
The National Weather Service has issued Flood Watches for portions of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana through Friday evening. Houston and Galveston in Texas and Lake Charles and Cameron in Louisiana are all included in the watch area.
The highest flooding concerns will be along the immediate upper Texas coast, including Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, where some spots of heavy rainfall have already occurred.
Through Saturday, the slow-moving tropical disturbance could drop a few inches of additional rainfall along the coast near the Texas-Louisiana border.
Computer forecast models suggest at least 1 to 3 inches of rain will fall in this region, with locally higher amounts upward of 3 to 6 inches possible in areas that see the most persistent rainfall.
Rainfall is welcome news
More than 85% of Texas is in some sort of drought, so the potential for heavy rainfall is welcome news in the Lone Star State.
The ongoing drought is even considered to be "exceptional" – the worst category on the U.S. Drought Monitor – in nearly 16% of Texas, which increases the risk for fires and leads to water shortages.
Galveston is more than 7 inches of rainfall below average for the year, and communities in the central and western parts of the state are in even worse shape.
San Antonio has a rainfall deficit of about 11 inches for the year, and homeowners and businesses are dealing with water restrictions.
The tropical disturbance’s heaviest rainfall will likely remain east of Interstate 45 and should taper off as the system works northward through the state over the Fourth of July weekend.
Tropics busy elsewhere
Elsewhere in the tropics, meteorologists are monitoring Potential Tropical Cyclone Two closing in on Central America.
Forecasters say there is around a 90% chance the tropical disturbance could develop into at least a tropical storm before reaching Central America by Friday night.
Computer forecast models show the potential tropical cyclone staying on a southern trajectory through the Caribbean and never becoming a threat to the U.S. mainland. After crossing Central America, it will emerge over the Eastern Pacific by Saturday.
The next name on the list of storms in the Atlantic Basin is "Bonnie."
During an average season, the second named storm forms around July 17.
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