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Heavy Rainfall Threat Along the Texas and Louisiana Coast; Excessive Heat in the Northern Plains

A warm tropical airmass along the Western and Central Gulf Coast continues to bring a threat of heavy to excessive rainfall for the Middle and Upper Texas coast and southwestern Louisiana. Rounds of heavy rainfall will likely lead to flash flooding concerns. Another day of hot temperatures is in store for the northern High Plains. Maximum temperatures may reach or exceed 100 degrees. Read More >

Overview

Tropical Storm Ophelia formed about 150 miles southeast of Wilmington, NC during the afternoon of Friday (9/22) when a non-tropical area of low pressure acquired some tropical characteristics (including convection near the center which had a warm core). Ophelia steadily tracked northward before making landfall in Emerald Island, NC (in the southeast part of the state) at 6:20 AM on Saturday, 9/23 as a tropical storm with 70 mph winds. Ophelia gradually weakened (and lost tropical characteristics) as it tracked northward toward the Wakefield CWA during the day on Saturday. Ophelia tracked northward roughly along the I-95 corridor during the afternoon and evening hours on Saturday, reaching the Richmond Metro Area while weakening to a depression. Ophelia became an post-tropical cyclone shortly thereafter and exited to the north/northeast on Sunday. Northeast winds gusted as high as 50-65 mph near the VA/NC coast well in advance of Ophelia Friday evening-early Saturday morning (due to a tight gradient between high pressure over New England and the tropical storm to the south), with 25-45 mph gusts farther inland. Winds turned to the SE near the coast on Saturday and a few gusts to 40-45 mph were observed (while winds remained NE inland west of the low track). Bands of rain (with embedded squalls/thunderstorms near the coast) began to move in late Friday and persisted through much of Saturday (although the rain largely ended near the coast by midday Saturday). As the center of the storm tracked up I-95 during the afternoon and evening, an area of heavy rain accompanied it, with rainfall rates of 0.5-1.5"/hour observed for a few hours from Emporia, VA to the Richmond Metro Area. Some areas saw 3-4" of rain from this band. As a result, there were numerous road closures but no reports of water rescues as rain rates were relatively lower than what we have seen during past tropical systems as PWs were only 1.75-1.95" in the Richmond Metro (near the center of the storm) as Ophelia was losing tropical characteristics. Normally, PWs are easily 2.5"+ in the center of systems that are fully tropical. Also, antecedent conditions were quite dry. 

In addition to the rainfall, moderate to major tidal flooding was observed across much of the area Friday night through Saturday evening. Water levels approached (or even slightly exceeded) +3ft MHHW in a couple spots in the lower bay/lower James River. In fact, water levels at Jamestown were the highest observed since 2016 (which caused disruptions to the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry). Tidal flooding was even observed as far up the James River as Hopewell. See "Tidal Flooding" section for more details. Last but not least, one brief EF-0 tornado was observed in Belvidere, NC in the northern part of Perquimans County during the morning on 9/23.

For the complete Post Tropical Cyclone Report (PSH), see https://www.weather.gov/akq/TropicalEventSummary.

 

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Storm Total Rainfall Map (Click to Zoom In) Max Wind Gust Map (Click to Zoom In)
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