Aug 30, 2017

Another Harvey Catastrophe: Extreme Flood Emergency in Port Arthur

Port Arthur, TX
Dr. Jeff Masters
Weather Underground
Photo: Weather Underground
Photo: Weather Underground

After causing severe wind damage near its landfall point in Rockport, Texas on Saturday, followed by an almost unimaginable flood catastrophe Saturday through today in Houston, Harvey has notched yet another extreme rainfall catastrophe this morning, in the Golden Triangle area of Texas, encompassing the cites of Beaumont/Port Arthur/Orange (population 410,000). Harvey made its final landfall in Western Louisiana near the Texas border near 4 am CDT Wednesday, with top winds near 45 mph. Overnight, Harvey dumped a devastating deluge of rain over the region, where catastrophic rains in excess of five inches per hour fell early this morning.

At the Beaumont-Port Arthur Airport, 26.03” of rain fell on Tuesday, which is more than double Beaumont's previous calendar-day record of 12.76" on May 19, 1923, in records going back to 1901. Between 10 pm last night and 1 am this morning, 11.86” fell. So far on Wednesday, 4.71” has been reported (as of 11 am CDT), bringing their 5-day storm total rainfall to a staggering 47.98”. The intense rains caused extreme flash flooding that inundated all of Port Arthur, according to Mayor Freeman, who showed a video this morning of the inside of his flooded house on his Facebook page. Port Arthur is the site of the nation’s largest oil refinery, which was forced to shut downdue to the floods. The nation’s second-largest refinery, in Baytown, TX, was also forced to shut down yesterday, due to flooding-induced roof damage. In all, at least 12 refineries are currently offline due to Harvey.

The extreme rains turned I-10 near Beaumont, Texas into a wild river with breaking waves this morning, as seen in this remarkable videoof a rescue boat plowing through the waters. Several rescue boats capsized in the raging waters, and citizen rescue boats were told to stand down and let only the Coast Guard handle rescues early this morning. The latest write-up on the situation in Port Arthur detailed a flooded shelter, house fires, overwhelmed 911 operators, and a plea for rescue boats.