Flooding from Harvey Closes NASA Center in Houston, but Space Station Operations Continue

A snapshot of Hurricane Harvey captured by astronaut Jack Fischer and posted on Aug. 26.
A snapshot of Hurricane Harvey captured by astronaut Jack Fischer and posted on Aug. 26. (Image credit: Jack Fischer/NASA)

Update, Aug. 28: JSC remains closed today to all non-critical staff. 

NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston is closed today (Aug. 27) to all but mission-critical staff, due to heavy rainfall caused by Hurricane Harvey. Mission Control, which oversees the operation of the International Space Station, "remains operational and fully capable of supporting [the station]," according to NASA's website.

The main entrance to JSC, and many of the roads leading to JSC's other entrances, were flooded as of this morning, according to the JSC Emergency Management website. (Since that update was posted this morning, rainfall has begun again in the area around JSC, which could mean flooding). On some of the flooded streets, cars have been abandoned on the roads, officials said. [Hurricane Harvey: Photos of the Massive Storm from Space]

"Unless you are mission essential, stay off the road and stay safe," officials said in a post on the JSC website posted at 10:15 a.m. CDT (11:15 a.m. EDT/1515 GMT) today.  

A flash flood warning was in effect until 12:30 p.m. CDT (1:30 EDT/1730 GMT), according to the Communications on JSC emergencies Twitter account (JSC SOS). A tornado warning was also in effect for the area around JSC, until about 4:15 a.m. CDT (5:15 a.m./0915 GMT) today, according to the National Weather Service Houston Twitter account.

Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but continues to generate "a tremendous amount of rainfall over areas including Houston," according to the JSC emergency website. The storm has reportedly dropped 20 to 30 inches (50 to 75 centimeters) of rain on the Houston area already, according to the Houston Chronicle. Five deaths have been reported in relation to the storm. 

Astronaut Jack Fischer, who is currently on the space station, has been posting pictures of the storm from space.

"'Houston, we have a hurricane.' Our thoughts & prayers are with folks feeling Harvey’s wrath, as dawn breaks after a long night of rain," Fischer wrote as a caption to a photo of the swirling cylone posted on Saturday morning (Aug. 26). 

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined Space.com's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left Space.com to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter