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The Latest at 10:20 p.m. ET. More Than 650,000 Power Outages In La.

That tidbit emerged in a letter from gov. Bobby Jindal to President Obama in which he requested expedited major disaster declaration for the state as a result of damage caused by Isaac.

Here's more from the letter:

The Latest At 11:06 P.M. ET Little Change In Strength

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Isaac will continue moving near or over the southeastern coast of Louisiana on Tuesday night, and move inland during the next day or so.

"Little change in strength is forecast tonight," it said at 10 p.m. CDT. "Slow weakening is expected after that."

As we reported earlier, widespread flooding was expected. Isaac was moving toward Baton Rouge, La.

NOAA

Hurricane Isaac will probably stay too far east to bring rain to Central Texas, but forecasters believe it will bring windy weather which will then make way for higher temperatures.

Hot, dry and breezy weather is the same combination that we had last Labor Day weekend before the devastating wildfires. But Lower Colorado River Authority Chief Meteorologist Bob Rose says things aren’t quite the same.

"We’re not looking at as extreme of critical fire weather conditions as we had last Labor Day weekend," Rose says. "Fortunately this summer we’ve had periods of rain from time to time, we have a little bit greener vegetation and the ground has a little more moisture in it. So the conditions going into this weekend are already not nearly like what they were last year."

UPDATE at 2:40 ET:


Here's the National Hurricane Center's update at 1:00 CDT on Monday:

...HEAVY RAINS AND FLOODING AFFECTING THE FLORIDA EAST COAST... SIGNIFICANT STORM SURGE THREAT EXPECTED FOR THE NORTHERN GULF COAST...

The storm surge for south-central Louisiana was expected to be 3 to 6 feet, the NHC said.

The National Hurricane Center says we have a new named tropical storm in the Atlantic.

Tropical Storm Isaac has winds of 40 mph, but it is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday afternoon.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows portions of Central Texas have moved from moderate to severe drought.

Recent hot and dry weather has prompted several Central Texas counties to issue burn bans.

Travis, Williamson, Hays and Burnet Counties are all prohibiting outdoor burning.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A weather pattern that could bring cooler temperatures and more rain to Texas is likely to develop this month or next, according to climate forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“There is increased confidence for a weak-to-moderate El Niño during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2012-13,” NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said. “El Niño conditions are likely to develop during August or September 2012.” In June, NOAA predicted only a 50 percent likelihood that El Niño would return in the second half of the year. El Niño creates unusually warm temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

NOAA also updated its summer hurricane forecast today, suggesting we may have a “busy second half” of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. They expect 12 to 17 tropical storms by November, including five to eight hurricanes, of which two to three could strengthen into major hurricanes. Tropical Storm Ernesto is currently spinning in the Gulf of Mexico and headed to a flood-prone inland area in the Los Tuxtlas region of Mexico, the AP reports. 

As StateImpact Texas points out, Texas needs just the right kind of storms, moist enough to drench the dry zones, but not powerful enough to erode the coastline, which is currently receding at an average rate of six feet per year

flickr.com/botterillgallery

A 40-year old man is now in stable condition after he was stung by bees about 300 times this morning in Pflugerville.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Office says they’re seeing higher populations of most types of insects this year – including aphids, cicadas and bees.

“Since we’ve been having more rain this year, there have been more plants available as a food source and the honey bees have an opportunity to collect nectar so there do tend to me more numbers – I’ve been getting more calls on bees than I have in the past few years," Extension Program Specialist Wizzie Brown says.

U.S. Drought Monitor

As far as the Texas drought goes, no news might be good news.

After steadily improving for months, the U.S. Drought Monitor map shows statewide drought conditions have reached a plateau.

Heavy rains two weeks ago brought more than 10 percent of the state out of any drought. That number remains steady.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Recent rain has lifted much of the Austin area from “severe” to “moderate” drought.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows an improvement across almost all of Central Texas. Williamson County went from extreme drought down to severe. And areas around Bastrop have improved to abnormally dry.

In fact, 12 percent of the state – much of Eastern Texas – is now classified as completely out of drought conditions.

Victor Murphy is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He says it will still be a while before all of Texas sees long-term drought recovery.

National Weather Service

Update (Noon): Via Twitter,  Bastrop Country Emergency Operations reports that FM 969 has been reopened.

Travis County Emergency Services reports that Star Flight helicopter service has been requested to search Eastern Travis and Western Bastrop counties. “Reported houses and vehicles submerged. Unknown if there are any victims,” the group says.

The American Red Cross Central Texas Region says they are dispatching a disaster assessment team “to the neighborhood affected by this morning’s flash flood in Webberville, TX. The team will have supplies, snacks, and water, and will be on scene to assess the needs of affected residents. Additional volunteers are standing by to open a shelter if needed.” 

The flash flood warning for Bastrop and portions of Travis County expired at noon. 

Original Post (11:13 a.m.): Bastrop and East Central Travis County are under a flash flood warning until noon, due to heavy rainfall last night and this morning.

U.S. Drought Monitor

The new U.S. Drought Monitor map shows Central Texas is getting drier. In just a little over a month, parts of Travis and Williamson Counties have moved from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.”

It’s been more than six weeks since the Austin area's seen a good rain.

"For the period from May 16 to July 5, a period of almost 7 weeks, the Austin area has seen only 0.44 of an inch," Victor Murphy, National Weather Service Regional Climate Service program manager, writes via email. "This is the driest such period on record there in Austin in over 100 years (since 1911).  Normal for this period should be about six inches.  Thus, Austin has received less than 10 percent of normal rainfall during what should be one of the wettest time of the year." 

Triple Digit Temperatures Descend on Austin

This weekend saw triple digit temperatures arrive in Central Texas.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures above 100 degrees every day this week. Tuesday should reach a stifling 106 degrees.

Meanwhile, chances of rain are slim and Central Texas remains in a state of moderate drought. Texas farmers and ranchers had hoped for some major rain as a result of Tropical Storm Debby, but the weather pattern has stayed relegated to the eastern Gulf of Mexico. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new map today – and the news is mixed.

For the first time since March of last year, no part of Texas is under the worst stage of drought. But parts of Central Texas are actually drier than they’ve been in the last few months.

The map shows parts of Travis, Williamson, and Milam counties have been elevated from moderate to severe drought.

That’s because June, which is usually the state’s wettest month, has been abnormally dry. In fact, the last five weeks have been the second driest late May to mid-June on record.

facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.FortWorth.gov

Powerful thunderstorms ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth region late yesterday, producing strong winds and baseball-sized hail. Now comes the clean-up – and paying for it.

The Insurance Council of Texas notes the thunderstorm was the second extreme weather event to hit the region in the last six weeks. In April, several tornadoes unexpectedly touched down in the Metroplex area.

The insurance council estimates the cost of insured losses from the tornadoes exceeded $400 million – but adds "losses from last night’s storm could be higher."

White Water Baldy Complex

A little more than nine months after wildfires devastated parts of Central Texas, new fires are spreading through New Mexico, burning over 278,000 acres of forest. Twenty-five states, including Texas, have sent support to help fight the blaze.

April Saginor with the Texas Forest Service says some cities in Texas like San Antonio can afford to send firefighters and aid because the state has fewer fires to battle themselves.

 

“It’s happening, but they’re much smaller than they were last year, and we were able to contain them rather quickly,” she said. “So we’re in good shape right now, but we’re waiting to see what kind of rain we get later this month.”

Image courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor

The worst drought in Texas history isn’t over but it’s not as bad – at least for now.

Most of Central Texas is classified as “abnormally dry.”

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new drought map today and it shows most of the area is under the least severe stage of drought. The western part of Travis County and much of the hill country is a little bit drier – considered in “moderate” drought.

Photo courtesy Clear Channel Outdoor

The Texas Gulf Coast is preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

Today emergency and traffic officials tested digital billboards that will provide emergency messages throughout the Houston area.

Drivers saw a message that said, “Emergency Alert: This is only a test.”

KUT News

City Elections Tomorrow

Election Day is tomorrow for the Austin municipal elections. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Fourteen candidates are running for four seats on the Austin City Council, including mayor.

Perhaps the most closely watched aspect of the election is the challenge to Mayor Lee Leffingwell by former council member Brigid Shea. Shea accused Leffingwell earlier this week of violating campaign finance laws, and throughout the campaign, has maintained that Austin is becoming more unaffordable

That's a common refrain among political challengers – that they will protect the citizenry's collective pocketbook better than the last guy.  But in the case of Shea, currently a community strategist and consultant, the arrival of huge companies like Apple and Formula One cast her position in a different light. 

Image courtesy National Weather Service

Update: Austin and Central Texas are now under a severe thunderstorm watch. The region has already had a couple of tornado warnings today around San Antonio. But there's still the chance of damaging storms in Austin through the early part of the evening.

"Right now the Austin area remains under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 o'clock tonight, which is mainly for the possibility of large hail and damaging winds,” says Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority. “But sometimes you can get tornadoes even under a severe thunderstorm watch as well. So it's not totally out of the question because this is a very dynamic system."

Rose says some parts of Central Texas could get up to six inches of rain by tomorrow.

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