Imelda has proved to be a serious storm after all. So far, the tropical depression has crawled across southeast Texas most of Thursday, dropping as much as four to five inches of rain per hour in some sections of the metroplex, and further inundating Beaumont, Winnie, and other communities to the east of Houston.
While Houston was able to handle the first bouts of rain that came in on Tuesday and Wednesday, the city is now feeling the impact of such massive amounts of precipitation over such a short time. METRO has ceased running, both Hobby and George Bush Intercontinental airports have delayed or canceled various flights since the roads around both airports are flooding, and various school districts are offering early pick-up or are announcing that they are closed.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for sections of Galveston, Fort Bend, parts of Brazoria, Chambers, Liberty, and Harris counties through 4:30 p.m. The radar indicates these places have been receiving anywhere from two to four inches of rain per hour and will likely continue to see similar levels of activity through this afternoon. Specific areas that are expected to flood include Pasadena, Pearland, League City, Baytown, northern Missouri City, Texas City, Friendswood, La Porte, Deer Park, Alvin, Dickinson, Stafford, South Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Santa Fe, Seabrook, Galena Park, Jacinto City, and Webster.
Meanwhile, authorities are asking everyone who possibly can to stay off the roads, as many across Houston have found themselves stranded in their cars due to the flood waters. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has issued a disaster declaration for Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency for Houston-area counties including Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, and San Jacinto. Abbott previously dispatched water rescue crews to this area to be on hand in case the storm did play out as badly as some were predicting.
There already have been hundreds of calls for high water rescues in Beaumont and other communities east of Houston, but now they're coming in here in Harris County as well, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. So far they've received 310 weather-related calls including 133 high-water rescues.
We'll be updating as this storm continues to play out.