Scientists have confirmed what one renowned weather forecaster has suspected for days: Hurricane Harvey was a “1-in-1,000-year flood.”
That’s according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center, who claim there is nothing in the historical record that rivals the devastation resulting from the flooding in southwest Texas, which has forced more than 30,000 Texans into temporary shelters.
“There is nothing in the historical record that rivals this, according to Shane Hubbard, the Wisconsin researcher who made and mapped this calculation. “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.”
Of course, one reason for this might be that the modern urban environment is covered in concrete and asphalt, which makes it impossible for floodwater to absorb into the ground, exacerbating the disaster.
Hubbard’s calculations, which he shared with the Washington Post, only accentuate the massive scale of the flooding.
- At least 20 inches of rain fell over an area (nearly 29,000 square miles) larger than 10 states, including West Virginia and Maryland (by a factor of more than two).
- At least 30 inches of rain fell over an area (more than 11,000 square miles) equivalent to Maryland’s size.
To that, we’d like to add the nearly 52 inches of rain recorded by the National Weather Service in Cedar Bayou, Texas, which broke the continental U.S. record.
Making matters worse, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) has just updated its forecast for what it is now referring to as a "rapidly intensifying" Category 2 hurricane in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Some models see the storm making landfall in Florida, while others see it landing somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that another powerful storm could ravage Texas just two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, leaving locals little time to recover.