Rescue boats fill an inundated street as flood victims are evacuated in Houston on Aug. 28. (David J. Phillip/AP)

The flood of epic proportions is not finished with Houston and large parts of southeast Texas. After 30 to 50-plus inches of rain, likely the greatest rain storm in U.S. history, another several inches could still fall. However, in Houston itself, rains were starting to ease some Tuesday afternoon.

In the 24 hours ending midday Tuesday, 6-12 inches of new rain had fallen across Houston, adding more water to a landmass that is fully saturated. However, rainfall intensity had substantially diminished Tuesday afternoon.

Even so, rivers and bayous remained near and above record levels, and Houston’s two major reservoirs, Addicks and Barker, west of the city are overflowing for the first time ever.

[Houston dam spills over for the first time in history, overwhelmed by Harvey rainfall]

Flooding of Bear Creek Village on the western edge of Addicks Reservoir #houwx#hounewspic.twitter.com/ApdD5Wg6au

— Jeff Lindner (@JeffLindner1) August 29, 2017

As Harvey picked up a little speed and started shifting north-northeast over the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday afternoon, its peak winds increased to 50 mph, but was not expected to strengthen further. The storm’s most intense rainfall Tuesday afternoon focused from Beaumont and Port Arthur northward to  Lufkin where 12-18 inches of rain had fallen over the past 24 hours and more than 6 additional inches could still fall.

In southern Louisiana, rainfall intensity and amounts varied with the heaviest activity in the extreme southwest portion of the state. Along the coast, from Holly Beach to Morgan City, Louisiana, a storm surge warning was posted for water levels to rise two to four feet above normally dry land when the center of the storm approached the coast for a second landfall Tuesday night.

To the east, New Orleans was under a flash flood warning Tuesday morning, but rainfall had lessened in the afternoon.

Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow shares what’s next for the battered Texas coast and tracks Harvey’s path toward Southwestern Louisiana. (Claritza Jimenez,Jason Samenow/The Washington Post)

Rainfall totals


Rainfall totals through 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Tuesday from Harvey. (Gabriel Florit/ The Washington Post)

The total rainfall numbers from Harvey have added up to historically extreme levels. At least 5 million people in the region around Houston have seen at least 36 inches of rain (and 6 million over 30 inches).  On Tuesday afternoon, a rain gauge east of the city moved past 51 inches for the storm which breaks the Texas and Lower 48 states record for the most amount of rain ever recorded from a tropical system – pending verification.

[Graphic: How bad is Harvey, how bad will it get, and when will it end?]

“The 3-to-4 day rainfall totals of greater than 40 inches (possible 50 inches in locations surrounding Santa Fe and Dickinson) are simply mind-blowing that has lead to the largest flood in Houston-Galveston history,” the National Weather Service office Serving Houston wrote.

Link:Updated rainfall totals from Harvey

Parts of Texas have seen more rain in the past four days than some major cities see in an entire year. That includes Washington D.C., which averages an annual precipitation amount of 39.74 inches.

1 trillion gallons of rainfall has fallen in Harris County over 4 days which would run Niagra Falls for 15 days #houwx#houwx#txwx#harvey

— Jeff Lindner (@JeffLindner1) August 29, 2017

Houston’s Hobby Airport registered its wettest, second wettest and fifth wettest day on record in the past three days.

Forecast 


Rainfall forecast Tuesday evening to Friday evening. (National Weather Service)

More heavy rain is expected along the upper Texas coast Tuesday into Wednesday, with additional rainfall of 4-12 inches possible. The area east of Galveston to the border with Louisiana is the zone most likely to see these amounts.

Around Houston, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While heavy showers could still fall in the area through Tuesday night, especially in its eastern sections, drier air should continue working into the region. And rain should start to taper off from west to east Wednesday. Just one to four new inches may fall.

In south central and southeast Louisiana, including New Orleans, to coastal Mississippi and Alabama, up to a few more inches of rain was possible, but the core of Harvey’s remnants were forecast to pass to the northwest. Several inches could fall in north central Louisiana through Thursday morning.


(National Hurricane Center)

Of course, in Houston, the flooding threat is far from over even after Harvey finally leaves the area. There is still the matter of all that water already on the ground. Much has been written in the past few days about how Houston’s rapid urban development over the last few decades has exacerbated the city’s flooding issues. It’s becoming more evident that Houston will be dealing with the after effects of Harvey for months to years, long after the storm has moved away.

Read more: 

Harvey marks the most extreme rain event in U.S. history

Where Harvey is hitting hardest, 80 percent lack flood insurance

More Hurricane Harvey coverage

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