Erin Batters Waterlogged Texas With More Rain

August 16, 2007

A weakened Erin still brought heavy rains and the threat of flooding this morning to an already soggy Texas.

No major damage was expected from the tropical depression's 40-mile-an-hour (64-kilometer-an-hour) winds, however.

Erin's ragged center made landfall between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Eastern time near Lamar, Texas, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Corpus Christi (see a map of Texas).

The storm weakened quickly as it moved inland, said Katie Roussy, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Corpus Christi.

Erin is expected to dump at least 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain in southern and central Texas, and some areas could get as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters).

The added rainfall could cause problems, because Texas was soaked in July with record rainfall that swelled rivers and saturated the ground. Corpus Christi received more than 18 inches (46 centimeters), and Victoria recorded more than 20 inches (51 centimeters).

(Related photo: "Texas Goes Green After Record Rainfall" [July 10, 2007].)

The Guadalupe River and the Nueces River have been at flood stage since the July downpours, and Erin's rainfall will keep them in that condition.

"We could see problems in Victoria," said Corpus Christi NWS meteorologist Tim Tinsley. "It will not take much to get the Nueces back up again."

Randy Sijansky, emergency-management coordinator for Corpus Christi, said about 80 people had been forced out of their homes in July by flooding on the Nueces northwest of Corpus Christi.

Erin's heaviest rains will skirt Corpus Christi, Sijansky said. But the residents who had to leave in July may be forced out again as floodwaters from upstream move back down the river later this month.

"We won't know about the Nueces flooding again for another week or week and a half," Sijansky said.

By that time Texas and the Gulf Coast may be facing another threat: Hurricane Dean.

That storm is expected to strengthen as it moves westward across the Caribbean Sea. The current National Hurricane Center forecast for Dean predicts that it will approach Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula by August 21 as a very powerful hurricane. (What is a hurricane?)

If Dean moves into the Gulf of Mexico, it would threaten a Gulf Coast that has been battered by a series of powerful hurricanes since 2004.

Earlier this month, forecasters at Colorado State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reduced their hurricane forecast for this summer.

But forecasters still think that 15 named tropical storms will form and expect 4 of those storms to become major hurricanes, with winds of at least 111 miles (179 kilometers) an hour. (Related: "2007 Hurricane Season Will Be 'Very Active,' Forecasters Say" [April 3, 2007].)

Willie Drye is the author of Storm of the Century: The Labor Day hurricane of 1935, published by National Geographic.

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