Southwest Louisiana experienced widespread flash flooding Thursday as Tropical Depression Imelda moved across southeast Texas and into the region overnight.
Meteorologist Don Jones with the National Weather Service's Lake Charles office said parts of Jefferson County in Texas received in excess of 40 inches of rainfall over a two-day period, which "is on par with what we saw in parts of that area during Hurricane Harvey."
He said Harvey set the national rainfall record at 60 inches in the Port Arthur, Texas, area and it's possible Imelda could top that.
"This is a very serious, very dangerous situation," Jones said as the storm moved across parts of western Cameron, Hackberry and Vinton Thursday morning and into Lake Charles by mid-day.
The Calcasieu Parish School Board closed Vinton elementary and middle schools as well as Starks High School Thursday morning due to the inclement weather, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced closures at La. 12 in Starks, U.S. 190 in Merryville and Interstate 10 westbound from Exit 4 to the state line.
"We're still looking at another 24 hours or so at least of rainfall, some of which could be heavy, so we're expecting 8-10 additional inches across southeast Texas in addition to the 40 inches that's already fallen," Jones said.
He said western Calcasieu and Camerons parishes had already received 5-10 inches by noon Thursday and 5-10 more were expected by nightfall.
"It wouldn't be out of the question to see 20 inches of rainfall in parts of western Calcasieu and as that weather band moves east we'll be looking at several more inches."
He said Southwest Louisiana shouldn't receive as much rainfall as southeast Texas did, but as the storm "starts to decay" tornadoes will be possible in the area.
Jones said there is a "fairly decent" chance of rainfall and thunderstorms Friday morning with most of the storm "washed out" by Friday evening.
"With high school football, the rain will be over but the fields will be sloppy," he said.
He said "the traditional afternoon thunderstorms" may hit the area Saturday and Sunday "but not the all-day rainfall we're seeing" with Imelda.
"Hopefully, that will give parts of the area time to dry out a little bit," he said.