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Harvey’s Approach Brings Potential Severe 5-Day Rain Event For Texas and Louisiana

For the third time in less than one month, powerful thunderstorms have dropped torrential rains in excess of 6 inches over Kansas City, Missouri. In the most recent event, a frontal system dropping down over the U.S. midsection encountered a very heavy load of atmospheric moisture streaming in off a much warmer than normal Gulf of Mexico. The result for Kansas City was the production of a towering boomer that dropped 10 inches in just one night.

Such an intense downpour turned roads into rivers and forced numerous residents to take refuge on rooftops as the waters rose once again. By morning, more than 130 water rescues had been called in across the city.

(NOAA predicts heavy rainfall for Texas and Louisiana over the coming week. Image source: NOAA.)

But this particular extreme event may be a simple prelude for what’s to come as the remnants of Harvey sets its sights on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. Harvey is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm or weak hurricane over a very warm and moist Gulf of Mexico within the next 48 hours. Models then predict that it will combine its substantial moisture load with that of the frontal system responsible for such severe flooding in Missouri last night.

Already NOAA is predicting some very significant rainfall amounts over the coming days for the Texas and Louisiana coastal regions (see image above). And Harvey represents a considerable rainfall potential given the fact that it is expected to stall over Texas and Louisiana for the better part of 5 days. With regards to NOAA rainfall predictions, it is worth noting that extreme local precipitation values have significantly exceeded NOAA predictions recently in the case of the most severe thunderstorms.

(2 PM EST assessment of Harvey’s path and potential for restrengthening. Image source: The National Hurricane Center.)

One possible spoiler for Harvey reforming is an upper level low swirling just southeast of Texas. This low could rip Harvey apart. But if this happens, that system would tend to also direct Harvey’s moisture toward Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. In which case, strong rainfall potentials are also likely. However, the National Hurricane Center expects this upper level low and associated squalls to move toward the north and west — generating rainy conditions for Texas and Louisiana ahead of Harvey and creating space for a more powerful and heavily moisture laden storm to form.

Lower than normal precipitation totals in the region of Coastal Texas during the past couple of months may help to alleviate flood potential if the rains from Harvey remain on the somewhat lighter side (2-4 inches) and if the system continues to be disorganized. A more organized system would tend to bring heavier precipitation totals. However, it is worth noting that during recent years, much warmer than normal sea surface temperatures have combined with a warmer atmosphere to spike heavy rainfall totals. A result of human-forced climate change due to ongoing rampant fossil fuel burning.

Links:

NOAA

The National Hurricane Center

Historic Flooding Leaves One Dead

Over 130 Calls Made to Kansas City Fire Department Amid Life Threatening Flooding Overnight

Hat tip to Wharf Rat

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20 Comments

  1. bostonblorp

     /  August 22, 2017

    OT: Pretty fascinating read on people building their own power walls using recycled laptop batteries. A little more risky than I’d be willing to undertake but hats off to the DIY community.

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/kzz7zm/diy-powerwall-builders-are-using-recycled-laptop-batteries-to-power-their-homes

    Reply
    • Very cool stuff. But, yeah, a bit risky.

      Reply
    • Actually… This got me thinking:

      “People often just throw away old laptop batteries, Garcia said. “I thought that’s incredibly wasteful because everyone online is showing that you can harvest these cells and reuse them.”

      He’s right. The old batteries he and other powerwall builders collect would likely end up in a landfill if they weren’t reused. “Approximately 95 percent of consumer batteries sold in the US are not recycled and are ultimately thrown away,” Carl E. Smith, the CEO and president of Call2Recycle, a leading battery recycling organization, told me in an email. “Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said.”

      We’re talking about gigawatts of wasted storage capacity in these laptops every year. Why not start a wave of lobbying for laptop companies and/or recyclers to reuse/recycle batteries as storage. This enthusiast stuff is great. But how can we capture most or all of this storage potential?

      In places like California, you’ve got it pretty easy. You could mandate laptop battery recycling and then leverage that storage for grid applications. You could also regulate how batteries are produced to make them more easily convertable to grid based storage after market… Hello!

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 22, 2017

        http://news.mit.edu/2014/recycling-batteries-into-solar-cells-0818
        ‘Recycling old batteries into solar cells
        Proposal could divert a dangerous waste stream while producing low-cost photovoltaics.’
        David L. Chandler | MIT News Office
        August 18, 2014

        “…The system is described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others. It is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells….”

        Reply
    • bostonblorp

       /  August 22, 2017

      Worth noting that the article claims 18650 batteries are hard to source for less than $5/piece. eBay and WalMart have bulk listings of new batteries for just over $2/piece. To run some numbers just for fun… Tesla’s 14Kwh powerwall goes for $6,200 plus installation.

      3.7V 18650 cell * 2500mAh = 9.25 watt hours per cell
      14,000 / 9.25 = 1,500 cells = $3,000

      I figure requisite charge controllers, housing, and other whatnots shouldn’t run more than $1,000. So if you really wanted to cook up your own powerWall you could do so for a decent discount.

      Obviously this is not an apples to apples comparison as you’re not getting Tesla’s likely superior cell chemistry, firmware, testing, safety features, warranty, or plug-and-play panel integration. But if the DIY community keeps plugging along I can foresee someone commercializing kits.

      Reply
      • A step further would be to standardize laptop battery construction for multi-use/recycling/after market purposes. There’s some real potential here for forward-looking individuals, industries and governments.

        Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 22, 2017

        ‘How to recycle lithium Ion battery cells from laptop batteries 18650 3.7 volts ‘

        Reply
    • 12volt dan

       /  August 23, 2017

      That is just too cool

      Reply
      • I wonder what the response would be if you just announced that you were looking for old laptops to recycle on boards like Craig’s list and were willing to do the leg work to go and pick them up? Net cost in time and running about would be the barrier then.

        Reply
  2. Reply
  3. climatehawk1

     /  August 22, 2017

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  4. coloradobob

     /  August 22, 2017
    Reply
  5. coloradobob

     /  August 22, 2017

    Their tick-tock maps have been getting crazier every run. It drifts into Texas, then wanders back into the GOM. Then it slowly wanders along the coast to New Orleans

    Reply
    • It’s getting diverted in the models by the prevalent trough pattern. The same pattern that will tend to keep feeding it instability and storms from the north even as the Gulf just bleeds out a pretty unusual high level of moisture.

      Reply
  1. Harvey’s Flooding is Already Catastrophic and Another 2-3 Feet of Rainfall is on the Way | robertscribbler
  2. Harvey’s Flooding Already Catastrophic and Another 2-3 Feet of Rainfall is on the Way | RClimate

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