Tropical Storm Harold speeds toward Texas, heavy rains expected

(Reuters) – Tropical Storm Harold was on Tuesday barreling toward the southern tip of Texas where it threatened to produce damaging winds and heavy downpours that could cause flash flooding and minor structural damage.

The storm, located 155 miles (245 km) east-southeast of Port Mansfield, Texas, was packing 45 miles per hour winds as it moved northwest at 18 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 5 a.m. EST.

The storm was expected to move inland over south Texas by midday on Tuesday and produce 3 to 5 inches (7-12 cm) of rain in many parts of the area, the center said.

Harold put some 1.3 million people in Deep South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley under a tropical storm warning.

“Remaining efforts to protect property should be completed as soon as possible. Prepare for limited wind damage,” the National Weather Service said in its forecast.

In anticipation of the storm, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the deployment of state emergency response resources and an increase in the readiness level of the state’s emergency operations center.

“I encourage Texans to remain weather-aware and heed the guidance of state and local officials and emergency management personnel as they work together to keep communities safe,” he said in a statement on Monday night.

The storm could cause flooding in poor drainage areas, minor coastal flooding and minor structural damage. It has the potential to also cause scattered power and communications outages, the service said.

Portions of northern Coahuila and Nuevo Leon in Mexico could also see flash flooding and landslides, the service said.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)