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WATCH: Houston Metro Won’t Get Tropical Storm Conditions, But Storm Surge Causing Flooding On Bolivar

More updates on Tropical Storm Cindy as it moves closer to land.

The latest forecast on Cindy shows most of the Houston metro region will not get tropical storm conditions, but there will be some heavy downpours.

But that’s not the case on Bolivar Peninsula, where storm surge is already causing flooding in low-lying areas.

Voluntary evacuations are underway. Dee Faltesek says she’s leaving because she doesn’t want to be inconvenienced.

There are long waits right now for the ferry that takes people from the peninsula back across to Galveston Island. But the ferry service says it has no plans to shut down operations for the storm.

 

2:15PM Update:

Voluntary evacuations are underway on Bolivar Peninsula.

Jannin O’Connor lives on Crystal Beach, but works on Galveston Island at the San Luis Hotel. She says she’s evacuating because Bolivar often floods.

O’connor says she also didn’t want to get stranded on the peninsula if the ferry closes because of the storm.

She says they’ve stocked up on water and supplies and plan to stay on the island until Friday.

 

1PM Update:

In the audio above, listen to a segment from Houston Matters with Jeff Evans, the meteorologist in charge at the Houston/Galveston office of the National Weather Service, who has the very latest on the progress of Tropical Storm Cindy.

Graphic from the National Weather Service
Graphic from the National Weather Service

As Tropical Storm Cindy moves closer to the shore, Harris County has the potential of seeing rain as soon as 1pm today. 

Mark Sloan, coordinator for the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, has stated that, “The biggest threat is the potential for heavy downpours. When we get heavy and hard rains, for a short period of time, that it takes time for the storm systems to catch up and let that drain into the creeks and bayous.”

Despite the threat of heavy rain Sloan makes it clear that Houstonians need not panic, but still remain cautious.

“We just gotta pay attention to our surroundings. Especially as we get into the evening hours overnight into tomorrow morning. We’re not expecting power outages. This is not a hurricane Ike type of event.”

The heavy rains and thunderstorms are likely to begin later tonight.


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Latest on Tropical Storm Cindy (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Severe weather whipped up Tropical Storm Cindy has damaged homes and vehicles in the Florida Panhandle.

Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said Wednesday that falling trees have hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods. The locally popular Ferry Park had a number of trees down and a concrete-block baseball dugout was destroyed.

Okaloosa County Emergency Management spokesman Rob Brown said the National Weather Service told the county the storm was a supercell. He says it was likely a tornado, but forecasters won’t declare it as one until they have a ground survey team assess the area.

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3:55 p.m.

Forecasters say heavy rains are now lashing parts of the northern Gulf coast as Tropical Storm Cindy gets closer to expected landfall in coming hours.

The National Hurricane Center says it expects little change in strength before Cindy reaches the coast late Wednesday, somewhere along the Texas-Louisiana line.

By Wednesday afternoon, the center of the storm was about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas, and roughly the same distance south of Lake Charles, Louisiana. Top wind speeds have remained at about 50 mph (85 kph) in recent hours as the storm churns toward land at about 9 mph (kph).

Forecasters say heavy rains from Cindy could cause life-threatening flash floods. The forecast generally calls for 6-9 inches (150-230 millimeters) of rain with up to 15 inches (380 millimeters) in some isolated spots. The Miami-based center also warns a few tornadoes are possible overnight from the Florida Panhandle into south Louisiana.

1:10 p.m.

A sheriff’s captain says a 10-year-old from Missouri boy has died on the Alabama coast after being fatally struck by a log washed in by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy.

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur says the boy was hit by the debris Friday morning in the Fort Morgan area along the coast. Stephen said witnesses reported the boy was standing outside his family’s condominium when he was struck by the log washed in by a large wave.

Arthur said the child was vacationing with his family. He says relatives and emergency workers were unable to resuscitate him.

The child wasn’t immediately identified.

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1 p.m.

The National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Cindy is heading toward the northern Gulf coast, where it is expected to make landfall in the coming hours.

The center said in an update at 1 p.m. CDT Wednesday that the storm was centered about 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana — or roughly the same distance southeast of Galveston, Texas. Its sustained winds continue to top out at 50 mph (85 kph) and it’s moving closer to the coast at a rate of 9 mph (14 kph).

Forecasters say the storm is nearing the coast along a stretch between southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana. They add that little change in strength is expected before landfall but that it will weaken once it moves inland on Thursday.

Heavy rains associated with the storm are raising the possibility of life-threatening flash floods over a wide area of the coast.

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12:40 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging his state’s residents to take Tropical Storm Cindy seriously.

As of midday Wednesday, there were no reports of serious home or business flooding in Louisiana. But, at a news conference, Edwards noted that two unnamed storms slammed Louisiana last year with heavy flood devastation.

Strong rain bands from Cindy continued to sweep across the Gulf Coast. And authorities said dangers from flash floods, severe storms and possible tornadoes remained a danger. Edwards declared a state of emergency early Wednesday. And Plaquemines Parish on the southeast Louisiana coast declared an emergency at midday.

Cindy was expected to make landfall near the Louisiana-Texas state line Thursday.

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Noon

Tropical Storm Cindy is pumping seawater into an area of the Mississippi-Louisiana coast that’s vulnerable to storm tide flooding.

Tides on Wednesday morning were 4 feet (1.2 meters) above normal in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and 5 feet (1.5 meters) above normal farther southwest, at Shell Beach, on Louisiana’s coast.

Bay St. Louis is in Hancock County, where Emergency Management Director Brian Adam says officials counted 355 roads with standing water early Wednesday. The low-lying southern half of the county is interlaced with inlets, bayous, rivers and canals. The county faces frequent tidal flooding. Adam says it happens five to 10 times a year.

Adam says he’s received no reports of flooded homes. Many homes in the county are elevated on stilts.

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11:40 a.m.

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Cindy are causing flooding in low-lying areas along the Alabama coast.

Some roads are covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, and police say streets are flooded on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Officials there have closed the beaches because of dangerously rough surf.

Double red flags are flying in Gulf Shores to warn people to stay out of the waves. But live video feeds Wednesday showed a few people still on the beach despite rain showers and high winds.

Becca Caldemeyer says business is slow at her bait shop in Bayou La Batre because it’s too windy to fish. She says sea water is washing into marshes, but she can still get to and from work since the roads aren’t completely covered with water.

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10:30 a.m.

Rain has slackened along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast after an overnight drenching, but not before a waterspout came ashore in Biloxi, causing minor damage.

Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy says the waterspout made landfall around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, causing damage to fences, trees and power lines. No one was hurt. One large live oak branch was downed on the grounds of Beauvoir, the historic home that once belonged to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport has reported more than 7 inches (180 mms) of rain since Tuesday morning.

Mississippi officials reported standing water on hundreds of roads after heavy rains, but Lacy says some flash flooding is receding for now, and no buildings have yet been reported as flooding. Coastal rivers are expected to leap their banks, though, as water runs off.

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10 a.m.

Forecasters say a slightly weakened Tropical Storm Cindy is threatening heavy rains and life-threatening flash flooding over a wide area of the northern Gulf Coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Cindy was located at 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday about 170 miles (270 kilometers) south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana — or about 180 miles (285 kilometers) southeast of Galveston, Texas. The storm has top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and is moving toward the northwest at 10 mph (17 kph).

Forecasters say a tropical storm warning has been discontinued for the greater New Orleans area and other areas north and east of the mouth of the Mississippi River. But the tropical storm warning remains in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi to San Luis Pass, Texas. Forecasters say the storm is expected to reach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas later Wednesday before moving inland.

Heavy rains are expected in southeast Texas, Louisiana, and southern areas of Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle through Thursday.

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9:35 a.m.

John Rickmon, a real estate broker in Pensacola, Florida, said he has been touring properties in the Panhandle area to see if they’ve been affected by rains from the tropical storm in the Gulf. He says some streets had water bubbling up from manhole covers.

“There’s nowhere for the water to go, so we’re seeing lots of ponding and lots of retention ponds that are right on the tipping point,” d Rickmon said. “We were saturated before this even started … I’m a bit concerned about what the next 24 hours will bring.”

Rickmon said he keeps a rain gauge at his house and it had already registered 8.5 inches (22 centimeters) before the most intense rains began.

Nearby, the National Park Service reported the bridge between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach was closed because of flooding.

Elsewhere in the Florida Panhandle, an emergency official reported downed trees and other damage — but no injuries — from severe weather caused by a passing storm cell. Okaloosa County Emergency Management spokesman Rob Brown said the damage was reported at several points in and around Fort Walton Beach in the county — but none of it was major structural damage.

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8:45 a.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Cindy’s landfall.

The governor’s spokesman Richard Carbo said Edwards signed the statewide declaration Wednesday morning.

The storm is moving closer to the Gulf Coast, where it threatens to bring a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.91 meters).

Wednesday morning, the storm was centered about 165 miles (265 kilometers) south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, and is moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy is expected to approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late Wednesday or Wednesday night and move inland Thursday.

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7:25 a.m.

Much of Florida’s Panhandle remains under a tornado watch as Tropical Storm Cindy looms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials in Santa Rosa County, which is just east of Pensacola, tweeted that some roads were under water early Wednesday. They urged motorists to use caution if they are driving in the southern end of the county.

News outlets also reported several roads in neighboring Escambia County have been closed due to flooding.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for much of the region until 10 a.m. Wednesday. Forecasters say the area can expect heavy rain through Thursday as the tropical storm moves through Louisiana and Texas.

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7:15 a.m.

Tropical Storm Cindy is creating the threat of tornadoes along the northern Gulf Coast.

The National Weather Service says flash flooding from torrential rain is the main problem associated with the storm, but twisters are also possible.

Forecasters issued tornado warnings for the areas around Fort Walton Beach and Indian Pass in Florida after radar indicated possible tornadoes Wednesday morning.

A tornado watch covered the entire coast from southwestern Louisiana to near the Big Bend region of Florida.

Alabama’s main beaches are mostly empty as Cindy blows offshore, and Baldwin and Mobile counties canceled summer classes because of the storm.

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7:10 a.m.

Tropical Storm Cindy is moving closer to the Gulf Coast, where it threatens to bring a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.91 meters).

As of 7 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the storm was centered about 165 miles (265 kilometers) south-southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana, and is moving northwest near 8 mph (13 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Cindy is expected to approach the coast of southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas late Wednesday or Wednesday night and move inland Thursday.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph (96 kph).

The National Weather Service said early Wednesday that flash flood watches covered parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

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7 a.m.

Forecasters in Louisiana say Tropical Storm Cindy will bring the potential for a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.91 meters) along the Gulf Coast.

The National Weather Service said early Wednesday that flash flood watches covered parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia as the storm trudged closer to the U.S. mainland.

The weather service has warned that the storm brings the threat of “life-threatening flash flooding.”

Rain bands began pushing ashore Tuesday even before the system reached tropical storm strength. It was stationary much of the day Tuesday but was on a lumbering track that would take its center toward southwestern Louisiana and eastern Texas by Wednesday morning.

But the heavy rains were on its east side, meaning the major rain threat stretched from southeastern Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

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4:20 a.m.

Residents and officials along a stretch of the Gulf Coast from the Florida panhandle to eastern Texas are keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Cindy.

The storm formed Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s expected to move slowly toward the Louisiana-Texas line. But the heaviest rain bands were to the east. And the National Weather Service says it poses a threat of dangerous flash flooding.

Forecasters say some areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida could see a foot of rain.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency Tuesday because of the threat of torrential dangerous high tides and rip currents. Other state and local officials along the coast were mulling similar declarations.

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