Harvey will go down in the record books not as one of the strongest hurricanes, but the wettest. It affected a major city, a large geographical area, and won’t soon be forgotten. T’he National Weather Service said Cedar Bayou, Texas, recorded 51.88 inches of rain from Harvey which is a new continental U.S. record.

Ranked storms

Heavy flooding events. Image courtesy of WxBell.

One researcher is calling this event a 1,000 year flood.  “There is nothing in the historical record that rivals this, according to Shane Hubbard, from the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center. “In looking at many of these events in the United States, I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude or size,” he said. “This is something that hasn’t happened in our modern era of observations.”

Harvey 1,000 year flood.

It also didn’t help that marshland was paved with concrete and the water had no where to go.  A thousand year storm doesn’t mean it will happen every 1,000 years, it just means on any given year there’s a 1/1000 chance of it occurring. An important distinction.

Final rainfall totals for Harris County:

Final rainfall totals for the Houston area.

Harvey was in the perfect weather pattern to produce the amount of rainfall that it did over the same area. A large upper ridge centered across the western half of the country and a weak trough stretching from Texas to the northeast with another ridge across the southeast. This created a blocking pattern for it to stall. In addition, with the storm being so close to the coastline it retained an ample supply of Gulf moisture.

Jetstream pattern trapping Harvey.

At this time of this writing, the flooding is still only slowly receding and the damage left behind will be in the tens of billions of dollars when all is said and done. A bright side to this storm has been the outpouring of support from people all over the country wanting to help in some way. Donations of food, shelter, clothes, and money continue to come in every day to various donation centers, churches, organizations, etc. Rescues are ongoing as well as more people affected by the flood lose power and run out of rations. It’s good to see mankind come to the aid of one another in great tragedy and times of need.

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