Wet weather coming to area

AP/Jennifer Reynolds - Chuck Lee, with Lee Remodeling, boards up a customer’s home in Galveston Monday.

By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

Tropical Storm Edouard will reach the Texas coastline this morning on a direct path to Central Texas.

Meteorologists believe Edouard will deposit far more rain than Hurricane Dolly did in July.

Stacie Hanes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said Central Texas likely will get several hours of steady rainfall, with 3 to 5 inches of accumulation. Hanes said the rain should reach the Killeen area in the late afternoon hours and continue into the evening.

The southeast portion of the state is expected to get 4 to 6 inches with up to 10 inches in isolated areas.

Edouard's wind speed has increased since the storm formed off the coast of Florida on Saturday. By the time the storm hits land between 7 and 10 a.m. today, it may be classified as a Category 1 Hurricane.

If the rain does come as forecasters believe, it has the potential be the largest substantial rain of 2008, rousing resident's memories of the May 2007 flooding which took the lives of six people in Killeen and Copperas Cove.

While emergency management teams are constantly monitoring the storm's progress, most don't believe Edouard has the capability to overwhelm the Central Texas infrastructure like the storm of 2007, especially since the ground is so dry.

Chad Berg, Killeen's assistant emergency management coordinator, said last year's rains brought far more water than anything Edouard could deposit on the coastline in the next two days.

"You can't compare the two events," Berg said Monday evening. "I haven't gotten any reports that we're expecting (enough rain to close off roads.)"

Last year's flooding was spurred by multiple large storm cells which drifted over Central Texas and slowed to almost a stop, depositing all their rain in a small location. The area struggled to absorb the first storm; when the second one hit a day and a half later, the ground, lakes and streams were too soaked to slow it down.

"That first night we got 10 inches of rain in a few hours – we're not anticipating anything like last year," Berg said. "Those clouds stalled out over the area for a lengthy period of time. No one forecasted that. Following through later that week it had another period of extensive rain. Our ground right now is so dry, the creeks and the rivers should absorb it."

Bell County Emergency Management Coordinator Dennis Baker said the state's operation center first had a conference call Sunday afternoon with cities in the storm's path as it began to take shape.

Another conference call was yesterday afternoon with emergency preparedness personnel from cities and counties in Central Texas down to the coast. Baker said the state had been considering an evacuation of some coastal counties. Bell County is the designated host for coastal Brazoria County in the event of an evacuation, which is home to nearly 300,000 people.

Baker said the state will not issue any evacuation decrees, but all agencies will be closely monitoring the storm. Bell County, like Killeen, keeps in regular communication with the NWS, which will issue specific forecast data on the path of the storm once it hits land this morning.

Meteorologists believe the bulk of the rain will hit Central Texas within eight hours of reaching the coast.

"The potential for rain could lend itself to some flash flooding, but I don't expect that to happen," Baker said.

Berg said they will have many hours notice in case the storm intensifies and poses a threat.

"If it's going to hit us, we're not going to be the first affected," Berg said. "Right now, (state officials) are just concentrating on the coastline. They aren't really worried about us. ... We monitor them and advise directors if they need to block off low-lying areas."

Berg still encourages people to monitor the weather and put together an emergency preparedness kit to keep in their homes. The city's readykilleen.org Web site, along with ready.gov, provide useful links and education to deal with disasters.

Contact Justin Cox at jcox@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568.

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