Worst Tropical Rainfall Event in Texas History Made More Deadly by Climate Change: Harvey Totals Now Top 49 Inches

We can’t say that Hurricane Harvey was caused by climate change. But it was certainly worsened by it. — Dr. Michael Mann

Harvey is already the worst rainstorm in U.S. history and it’s still raining.Meteorologist Eric Holthaus

******

It’s the fifth day of an unprecedented rain event that one of the world’s top scientists is saying was made worse by climate change. Flood totals as of earlier this morning topped a record-smashing 49 inches. Emergency management officials are saying that this is a 1,000 year flood event (and it could get worse). And the rains are still falling as levees in and around the city of Houston over-top or fail.

If peak rainfall was the whole of this story, then things wouldn’t be quite so bad for Houston and other Texas cities. But with this particularly severe storm it’s a combination of size, severity and duration that has produced such terrible floods. Harvey’s persistent stall has brought very severe rains to a large swath running all the way from southeast Texas in an arc through Mississippi. And a huge flood basin from Victoria to Austin to Lufkin to Lake Charles has now received between 8 and nearly 50 inches of rain as of early Tuesday.

Such a large swath has resulted in a more significant pulse of waters flooding into streams, lakes, and reservoirs. This depth of zonal flooding generates more water pile ups as flows move downstream. Resulting in higher peaks at rivers in places like Houston and putting more stress on water management infrastructure. An infrastructure that was designed to handle the 100 to 1,000 year floods of a gentler climate but not the so-called 1,000 year or worse floods of an atmosphere loaded up with a much greater portion of storm-fueling heat and moisture.

That this will be the worst flood in Texas history by a number of measures goes without question. That the flood was made worse by climate change is a scientific fact. That Texas is still getting pummeled by a tragic blow that is costing both lives and tens of billions of dollars in damages is a foregone conclusion.

At this point, the question we need to be asking ourselves is how can we prepare for more of these kinds of extreme rainfall events — which are surely coming. And how can we honestly work together to reduce both their future intensity and damage? How can we ultimately protect lives and property in a world we have made more dangerous by burning fossil fuels and dumping carbon into the atmosphere? And how quickly can we resolve ourselves to stop making the problem worse?

UPDATED (1)

RELATED STATEMENTS AND INFORMATION:

Links:

Hurricane Harvey Made More Deadly by Climate Change

National Weather Service Houston

The Capital Weather Gang

Harvey is Already the Worst Rainstorm in U.S. History and it’s Still Raining

Houston Levee Failures

 

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35 Comments

  1. Nancy

     /  August 29, 2017

    https://mobile.twitter.com/JooBilly/status/902349358410211328

    This Tweet thread explains the politics in Houston which led up to the flooding disasters over the last few years, including Harvey. Much of the mess today is the result of human interference and inaction. This man, Billy Fleming, did a lot of research for his PhD on the enormous population growth and housing boom in Houston and the lack of government planning that could have prevented much of the flooding that has hit Houston.

    He also writes about the fact that Houston (the country’s 4th largest and growing city) is the biggest petrochemical port in the US and they refine 2/3 of fuel for the military , so it is a national security issue.

    Reply
    • Two things that could have helped Houston:

      1. More global climate change mitigation.
      2. Better planning and preparedness.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 29, 2017

        Lesson to learn from, asap.

        Reply
      • “2. Better planning and preparedness.” INDEED! We should be devoting a huge portion of our effort to combat the effects of climate change with the assumption that RESILIENCE is absolutely necessary. Resilience in a context of sustainability will go a long way.

        Reply
    • Robert McLachlan

       /  August 29, 2017

      Perhaps we won’t be hearing “Houston’s a great model for all cities because it has no zoning regulations and plenty of cheap houses” so much any more.

      Reply
  2. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    Great job, Robert, staying on top of this evolving tragedy.

    A way to see what’s happening in some parts of the area, updated regularly.
    Some of the cams are out or have been misdirected by wind however most are working and on point. A lot of the flooding is to the east, where the direction of the overflow.

    Houston Traffic Webcams. Many choices from all over Houston, Galveston Ferry,
    http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/cctv/transtar/by_roadway.aspx

    Select between ‘Freeways’, ‘Streets’, ‘Ferry’, etc.
    Select a specific area in one of those categories from the submenu that will appear.
    Use your up and down arrows to scroll through cameras in the selection box on the left.

    Here’s IH-10 East, flooding visible on just about every cam.
    http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/cctv/txdot/txdot_regional_cameras.aspx?rd=IH-10_East

    p.s. posted ^that earlier this morn to the previous thread. Water levels much higher now.
    Here’s another set fof cams rom IH-10 East.
    http://traffic.houstontranstar.org/cctv/transtar/by_roadway.aspx?rd=IH-10_East

    Reply
  3. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    Reply
  4. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    Breaking: The levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached

    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-weather/article/levee-Columbia-Lakes-breached-Hurricane-Harvey-12142307.php

    Brazoria County officials said the levee at Columbia Lakes has been breached. Residents are being told evacuate.

    The county, south of Houston, is expected to be hit with even more flooding atop the already record-high water levels.

    “That area is under mandatory evacuation,” said Sharon Trower, spokeswoman for Brazoria County. “We have some residents there who didn’t want to leave. We have first responders there getting them out now.”

    Reply
  5. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    ‘”Chemical emergency” that added to area’s catastrophe is contained’
    Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Chemical-leak-adds-to-catastrophe-in-Ship-Channel-12097384.php

    La Porte firefighters and a Harris County hazmat team have contained a chemical spill Monday after a pipeline ruptured on the northeast side of La Porte in the petrochemical district about 20 miles east of downtown Houston.

    Around 4:30 p.m. Monday, residents of La Porte, Baytown and Shoreacres were warned to shelter in place – meaning they should stay inside, shut off air conditioning and close doors and windows.

    La Porte police and the city of Shoreacres signaled shortly after 7 p.m. that the incident was resolved. No injuries were reported.

    “We have given the all clear,” La Porte Police Sgt. Bennie Boles said in a statement. “Roadways are opened.”

    …The chemical that leaked just north of the interchange between Texas 225 and Texas 146 was anhydrous hydrogen chloride, “which presents symptoms of eye, throat, and nasal irritation,” according to a statement issued by the city of La Porte.

    A federal safety guide identifies hydrogen chloride as a corrosive poison gas that “can cause serious or permanent injury.” The guide describes the chemical as a “colorless gas with a sharp, pungent odor.” The non-flammable substance is part of the manufacturing process for “rubber, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and in gasoline refining and metals processing.”

    …As a result, the city of Baytown said the Fred Hartman Bridge was closed over the Houston Ship Channel.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 29, 2017

      “The La Porte Police Department did not identify the owner but said that “the company responsible for the line and the cause of the leak is being investigated and will be determined at a later date.””

      Reply
  6. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    Orange Menace and stupormodel wife visit Houston.

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 29, 2017

      She’s still unwilling to hold his hand. He doesn’t even try anymore.

      Reply
      • eleggua

         /  August 29, 2017

        ^That’s the look of love.

        Reply
      • Loni

         /  August 30, 2017

        Could it be the size of hands that matter?

        Always somethin’ new to learn about women.

        Reply
        • eleggua

           /  August 30, 2017

          “Could it be the size of hands that matter? ”

          Nope. It’s the size of the heart that matters.

          “Always somethin’ new to learn about women.”

          And men.

  7. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    ‘Houston Police officer drowns in Harvey floodwaters’
    12:08 pm, Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-Police-officer-drowns-in-Harvey-12145510.php

    A Houston police officer drowned in his patrol car in Harvey floodwaters, according to three department officials.

    The officer, an HPD veteran who has been with the department for more than 30 years, was in his patrol car driving to work downtown Sunday morning when he got trapped in high water at I-45 and the Hardy Toll Road.

    Search and rescue crews are currently recovering his body. The department has not yet formally notified the officer’s family.

    He was trying different routes, and took a wrong turn,” one high-ranking official said, asking not to be identified.

    After getting trapped in high water, the officer tried to get out but was unable to…

    Reply
  8. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    Wee bit of levity.

    “What do you do if your house floods during a hurricane? Go fishing! Saul Saldana made the best of a terrible situation when he tried to catch a fish inside his flooded home. Much to the enjoyment of his family, he got soaked before finally making the catch.”

    Reply
  9. eleggua

     /  August 29, 2017

    ‘Harvey updates: Dangerous situation unfolds in Kingwood’
    Updated 1:32 pm, Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/kingwood/news/article/Harvey-updates-Dangerous-situation-unfolds-in-12150209.php

    1:14 p.m., Aug. 29 Update: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is overseeing evacuations across the West Lake Houston Parkway bridge in Kingwood and is no longer working with private citizens to rescue residents.

    Instead, military vehicles have taken over the operation.

    1:11 p.m., Aug. 29 Update: Atascocita Fire Chief Mike Mulligan said emergency evacuations are taking place in the Kings River, Walden and Ramblewood subdivisions.

    12:46 p.m., Aug. 29 Update: Woodland Church in Atascocita is serving as a shelter and is not at capacity. Representatives there said they are in need of water, air mattresses, cots and baby products.

    12:31 p.m., Aug. 29 Update: A member of the Border Patrol Search and Rescue Team said they are currently focused on evacuating people on the other side of the bridge at West Lake Houston Parkway bridge in Kingwood.

    “If it keeps raining like this, there’s not going to be any access across the bridge,” he said before quickly rejoining the efforts. “At this point, there’s a school down there; there’s a few hundred people there, and there’s a local police dept that needs to be evacuated.”

    Reply
  10. Reblogged this on sdbast.

    Reply
  11. “That Texas is still getting pummeled by a tragic blow that is costing both lives and tens of billions of dollars in damages is a foregone conclusion.”

    Tragic in the original sense. Hubris has led to this.

    Reply
  12. wharf rat

     /  August 29, 2017

    #Galveston, TX now 26.33″ for the month. All-time record. #Harvey #txwx flooding ongoing in historic district and the Strand

    Reply
  13. wharf rat

     /  August 30, 2017

    CROSBY, Texas (KTRK) — Officials have evacuated workers and residents within 1.5 mile from the Arkema site in Crosby as flooding has created a risk of a chemical reaction leading to fire or possible explosion.

    According to plant officials, the situation has become serious.

    http://abc13.com/15-mile-radius-around-crosby-plant-evacuated-/2355735/

    Reply
    • eleggua

       /  August 30, 2017

      ‘Arkema Inc. incident news’
      6:50 pm est., August 29, 2017

      http://www.arkema-americas.com/en/social-responsibility/incident-news/

      “As of late this afternoon, the situation at the Crosby site had become serious. In order to ensure the safety of our ride-out team, all personnel have been evacuated from the site at this time. We are working with the Department of Homeland Security and the State of Texas to set up a command post in a suitable location near our site. We also have been in contact with other regulatory authorities, who are aware of this situation.

      Arkema manufactures organic peroxides at the Crosby plant. The primary challenge has been maintaining refrigeration for these products, which are stored at low temperature. The site lost refrigeration to all of its cold-storage warehouses when electrical power was lost and back-up generators were flooded. Our team then transferred products from the warehouses into diesel-powered refrigerated containers, and continued to monitor the situation.

      At this time, refrigeration on some of our back-up product storage containers has been compromised due to extremely high water, rising to levels that are unprecedented in the Crosby area. Arkema is limited in what it can do to address the site conditions until the storm abates. We are monitoring the temperature of each refrigeration container remotely. At this time, while we do not believe there is any imminent danger, the potential for a chemical reaction leading to a fire and/or explosion within the site confines is real.

      We have no higher priority than the safety of our employees, neighbors and the environment. We have been working without pause to keep our materials safe.”

      Reply
  1. Harvey Intensifies Slightly Just Prior to Second Landfall | robertscribbler
  2. Harvey Intensifies Slightly Just Prior to Second Landfall | RClimate

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