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Tropical Storm Bill Makes Landfall In Texas


Updated 5 p.m. ET

Member station KUT in Austin reports rain has moved into the Austin region. Travis County, where Austin is located, has a flash flood watch until 1 p.m. local time on Thursday. The National Weather Service also issued a tornado watch for the Austin area until midnight Tuesday. The City of Austin and the University of Texas sent employees and students home early.

Wimberly, Texas, in Hays County was one of the hardest hit towns in May's flooding. KUT says that towns in Hays County could get hit again, which would slow their recovery.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Tropical Storm Bill hit the coast of Texas just before noon local time on Tuesday, bringing high winds and heavy rains to the already-soaked state..

Bill made landfall on Matagorda Island, southwest of Houston, according to the National Weather Service. Maximum sustained winds were recorded at 60 mph.

The weather service issued a tropical storm warning for the Houston-Galveston region. Up to 8 inches of rain were forecast in some places. Flash-flood watches have also been issued for the region.

Tropical Storm Bill as seen from the International Space Station.
Tropical Storm Bill as seen from the International Space Station.

Florian Martin of member station KUHF reports from Galveston:

"The people I've talked to so far, they've all said, 'This is just wind and rain, we've seen this before. [Hurricane] Ike was bad, this is nothing.' "

Martin says people in Houston are still recovering from flooding three weeks ago.

"That was pretty bad in parts of Houston," he says. "People are still in the process of fixing their houses. There's been a lot of damage; FEMA has been helping out with federal money. We're all hoping down here it won't get too bad in the Houston area. At this point at least it seems like it's not as bad as we expected."

Texas set the record for wettest single month in May. As we reported Monday, "the state recorded 8.81 inches of rain, crushing the previous record of 6.66 inches."

The Washington Post noted: "The tropical disturbance in the Gulf has been very slow to organize into a fully-formed tropical cyclone, though the lack of an impressive appearance on satellite does not diminish the flooding threat."

The Post says the storm system is expected to bring rain to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the Washington, D.C., area later this week. It adds:

"In terms of climatology, June is actually not an uncommon month for tropical cyclone landfalls on and near the Texas coast. Since 1851, there have been 26 landfalls, from tropical depressions up to a category 4 hurricane."

The Associated Press talked to Marshall Shepherd, the director of atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, about how current conditions left by the previous storm could strengthen this one:

"While tropical storms usually gather power from the warm waters of the ocean and then weaken once they move over land, NASA-funded research has shown some storms can actually strengthen over land by drawing from the evaporation of abundant soil moisture, Shepherd said. The phenomenon is known as the 'brown ocean' effect."

You can read more about flooding in Texas here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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