Texas braces for flooding as Tropical Storm Harold barrels towards state

Texas is preparing for flash flooding, strong winds and dangerous weather conditions including possible tornadoes, as Tropical Storm Harold barrels towards the south central state.

The low pressure system known as Tropical Depression Nine – which formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday afternoon – has now strengthened and developed into Tropical Storm Harold, an extreme weather event expected to cause heavy rain and high-force winds on Tuesday.

As recorded by the National Hurricane Center, Harold had already whipped up 45mph winds by 1am CDT, with 39mph winds being classifed as a tropical storm.

If it reaches 74pmh and above, Tropical Storm Harold will be classified as a hurricane.

By 4am CDT the storm’s centre was 155 miles east-southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas.

Several weather alerts are in place, including a tropical storm warning for the mouth of Rio Grande to Port O’Connor and a tropical storm watch from Port O’Connor to Sargent.

A warning means a tropical storm is expected today, while a watch highlights it is possible.

At 4am CDT, the National Hurricane Center added that heavy rains and strong winds had begun “to spread onshore in the warning area”.

Storm Harold is expected to bring up to 3 inches of rain to southern Texas through Tuesday and Wednesday , while some areas may see as much as 5 to 7 inches.

The National Hurricane Center has also said that tornadoes could form in south Texas on Tuesday afternoon too.

While the state has recently seen drought conditions, a storm surge of one to three feet along coastal areas such as Corpus Christi, Baffin Bay and Brownsville could lead to flash flooding.

The National Hurricane Center said: “The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast near and to the north of the landfall location, where the surge will be accompanied by large waves.”

Surf and rip tide conditions are also being described as “life-threatening”.

Residents in eastern Texas and northern Mexico are being urged to monitor the storm’s progress.

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to increase the preparedness of the Texas State Emergency Operations Center to level two ahead of Storm Harold arriving.

State emergency response resources have now been deployed, including a flood water boat squad, rescue boat teams and a search and rescue aircraft.

In a statement, Mr Abbott said: “Texas stands ready to deploy all available resources to South Texas as tropical storm conditions impact the region this week.”

“I encourage Texans to remain weather-aware and heed the guidance of state and local officials and emergency management personnel as they work together to keep communities safe.”

Tropical Storm Harold is the latest in a series of extreme weather events to affect the US recently.

This week, Tropical Storm Hilary caused a year’s worth of rain to fall in a single day in California, leading to “life-threatening” flooding.

Tropical Storm Franklin is now nearing Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Tropical Storm Emily is also currently developing within the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, after wildfires in Maui, Hawaii claimed 114 lives at the beginning of August, 850 people are still unaccounted for and residents are now bracing for the potential effects of post-tropical cyclone Fernanda.