Coordinators with Wharton County (Andy Kirkland) and the City of Wharton (Stephen Johnson) Emergency Management departments have kept an eye on the Gulf of Mexico dating back to last week when conditions were favorable for formation of storms in the tropics.

As early as Monday, July 8, it was too early to say where a storm was projected to strike along the hundreds of miles of Gulf Coast land that stretches from Texas to the Florida Panhandle.

Before a Commissioners Court meeting, WC’s Kirkland said it wouldn’t be until mid-week where a troubling weather system would be projected to strike. That weather system has since received a name and been upgraded – Tropical Storm Barry.

On Thursday, July 11, Barry was projected to strike Louisiana, with reports and images of flooding already reported ahead of landfall. 

The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) Houston reported on July 11 at 4 p.m. that TS Barry was continuing to slowly move westward across the northern Gulf with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

“Current forecasts from the National Hurricane Center show that TS Barry is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast sometime early Saturday (July 13) morning,” Johnson said. “If Barry continues on the forecast track Southeast Texas is not expected to have any impacts with a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of tropical storm force winds (39-73 mph).”

He said the accumulation of rain over the weekend is between 1/100th of an inch to a quarter of an inch. 

Still, it prompted the City of Wharton and Johnson to issue a press release on these matters.

“The City of Wharton would like to remind residents that we are currently in the middle of hurricane season and with the possibility of tropical storms or hurricanes forming in the Gulf of Mexico, now is the time to prepare,” the press release read. “It is important to be prepared for possible weather situations and how they will affect your home and family.”

The press release had recommendations to keep residents and their families safe, including:

• Put together an emergency kit and check all emergency equipment, such as flashlights, generators and storm shutters. 

• Write or review your family emergency plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. 

• Review your insurance policies: Make sure your insurance policies have adequate coverage for your home and personal property. 

• Make a plan for your pets now. Make sure they are wearing a collar and have up to date tags. If you have to evacuate, take your pets with you. Remember if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your pet. 

• Stay informed by tuning into your local TV or radio stations and/or purchase a weather radio. 

• Sign up today for the emergency alert system to keep you better informed of emergency situations, city related issues and notifications. The signup for the system can be found on the City of Wharton website at www.cityofwharton.com by clicking the Sign Up For Smart911 button. If assistance is needed in signing up please come to Wharton City Hall located at 120 East Caney Street and the city staff will be happy to assist you. 

Judging by the sunny and hot weather, Wharton residents experienced on July 11, it was anything but rainy. The NWS reported another hot day due to a combination of high temperatures climbing into the mid to upper 90s and dew point temperatures in the mid 70s, resulting in triple digit heat index values. Wharton’s heat index value was 105. Others like Crockett (107) and Liberty (106), and Columbus and Galveston (both 105), exceeded Wharton’s or matched it.

Friday, July 12 update

Kirkland emailed information about Barry at 10:43 a.m.

The following is what he shared: “We just completed our final conference call with the NWS and the threat to our area from Barry continues to diminish. There is a possibility of a heavy rain band going through southeast Texas after Barry has moved into northern Louisiana/Arkansas but our actual forecast has our area receiving less than a half inch of rain. There is about a 5 percent chance of our area picking up tropical storm force winds (40+mph) on Saturday night if the system were to move into the western side of the cone. Overall, our largest problem this weekend will be the heat, with temperatures forecast to be 94-97 degrees and heat indices 102-107. I’m including the latest map on Barry with the 10 a.m. advisory and also our local NWS forecast.”

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