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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A 1000 Year Rainfall Event

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, August 29, 2017/Categories: natural history, video, space science, sustainability, art and design, environment, climate change


     Hurricane Harvey 4-Day Color-coded Predicted Rainfall Totals, 8-28-17 to 8-31-17 (credit: CIMSS)

The flooding from Hurricane Harvey continues into their 4th day. Harvey is the most extreme rain event in US history and torrential rains could continue for several more days in Texas and Louisiana. So much rainfall and weather data has been gathered by satellite radar, photography, and other measurements of the monster storm that it is best visualized to appreciate the event's magnitude. A NOAA animation shows hurricane clouds regenerating and regaining more moisture as the storm moves off the coast towards Louisiana.

According to NOAA, "Harvey is expected to produce additional rainfall accumulations of 15 to 25 inches through Friday (9/1) over the upper Texas coast and into southwestern Louisiana. Isolated storm totals may exceed 50 inches over the Texas and Louisiana coasts." Harvey will continue generating these intense bands of rain along coast being fueled by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As of August 28th, the volume of rainfall that has drenched south Texas now exceeds 15-trillion gallons of water. According to the John Neilsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist: rainfall totals "have broken the all-time contiguous U.S. record". A preliminary rain station total east of Houston recorded 50inches today. The magnitude of this much moisture has been illustrated as a 'water bubble' over the Texas city with a comparison to the volume produced by Hurricane Katrina that flooded New Orleans in August 2005, 12 years ago today:


      Ranifall Volume of Hurricane Harvey Compared to Hurricane Katrina, 8-29-2017 (credit: Goodle Earth/Vox)

While the epic volumes of water from Harvey is breaking meteorological records, people stranded require all the help they can get. From neighboring Louisiana, a state that knows a great deal about hurricanes, a 'Cajun Navy' appeared to assist in the search and rescue work along side other first responders. The Cajun people, known for their delicious food and joyous music, have a long history of being persecutied and settled to live the swamps and bayous of coastal Louisiana. A flotilla of rescue craft arrived with jet skies, air-powered flat-bottomed fishing boats, and pontoon floating gear that could easily  navigate the flooded areas of Houston:

In our previous commentary on Hurricane Harvey and its impacts, the question as to what role climate change might have played in the evolution of this super-storm. Other organizations are raising similiar questions. One analysis is here.

Long after Harvey vanishes, much more will be written on the issue of climate change and how to deal with its impacts.



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