Tropical Depression Imelda could dump 2 feet of rain on parts of Texas

John Bacon, USA TODAY

East Texas faces days of heavy rains and flash flooding as Tropical Depression Imelda, downgraded from a tropical storm, still packs a dangerous punch for millions of residents.

Some areas could see up to 25 inches of rain before the storm rolls away this weekend, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday. More than 20 inches of rain was reported in St. Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. The town of Sargent, 70 miles south of Houston, reported 17 inches.

Parts of Houston and Galveston saw almost 7 inches, and the storm could drench that area with up to 10 more inches, the weather service said. Flash flood watches were in effect for southeast Texas and extreme southwest Louisiana.

Some good news: Glenn LaMont, deputy emergency management coordinator in Brazoria County, south of Houston along the Gulf Coast, said that despite the heavy rainfall, he saw no reports of flooded homes or people stranded. He cautioned, “We’ve got two more days to go on this.”

The weather service said, "Heavy rains ... will spread inland over Eastern Texas during the next couple of days. These rainfall totals may produce significant to life-threatening flash floods."

The storm made landfall Tuesday afternoon near Freeport, 60 miles south of Houston. Imelda, crawling north at about 5 mph, was the first named storm to slam Texas shores since the staggering devastation of Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

In Friendswood, 30 miles northwest of Galveston, Jeffrey Klima offered his parking lot at Eagle Transmission & Automotive to area residents. He said his lot is on high ground, and a dozen or so people safely parked there during Hurricane Harvey. He's getting grateful takers during Imelda, too.

“I had one lady say she lost four cars during Harvey and that she was nervous," he told USA TODAY. "Those feelings don't just go away."

Triple threat: Storms gather strength in Atlantic

Some schools shut down Wednesday, including the 13 public schools that educate almost 7,000 students in Galveston.

"The combination of pre-dawn rain and high tide indicate a probable safety issue for students and staff," the district said in a statement.

Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist and director of flood operations for the Harris County Flood Control District in Houston, warned that Imelda remained a threat despite losing tropical storm status.

“We have a few things in our favor. The ground is dry. It’s been dry for a while here as we’ve come through summer,” Lindner said. “The initial parts of this rainfall will go toward saturating the ground.”

Elsewhere, Bermuda braced for a hit from Hurricane Humberto, a Category 3 storm that was not forecast to reach the U.S. coast. 

Tropical Storm Jerry was forecast to gain hurricane status in the Atlantic as soon as Thursday, and Pacific storms Lorena and Mario could claim similar designations later in the week.

Wednesday, Lorena posed an increasing threat to tourist resorts on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, where a hurricane warning was in effect. 

Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Houston weather: Tropical Depression Imelda hits Texas with rain, floods