Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded as a weakening tropical depression Thursday, but the death toll from its impact rose again as authorities in Houston began a recovery that could last months.The rains made Hurricane Harvey one of the costliest hurricanes in American history, and many residents are suffering through days of being trapped at home or finding refuge in a shelter. By Tuesday morning, Houston’s convention center was housing more than 9,000 people.
According to meteorologists, Hurricane Harvey is monster storm—combining the worst attributes of the most recent storms in Texas. As CBS notes the storm has the “devastating storm surge of Hurricane Ike in 2008; the winds of Category 4 Hurricane Brett in 1999, and days upon days of heavy rain of Tropic Storm Allison in 2001. As we’re already seeing, the effects of this trio have the potential to wreak havoc and devastation.
“It’s a very dangerous storm,” National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini told The Associated Press. “It does have all the ingredients it needs to intensify. And we’re seeing that intensification occur quite rapidly.”
Water needs to be about 79 degrees or higher to sustain a hurricane, and Harvey came through a part of the Gulf of Mexico where the water is about 87 degrees. It’s not just about how warm the surface water is but how deep it goes—and in the case of Harvey, it’s about 330 feet deep.
Combine the temperature of the water with weak winds, and Harvey is “free to go nuts, basically,” Brian McNoldy, a senior hurricane researcher, says.
According to Wunderground, Harvey is the most extreme precipitation event on record to affect any major city in the United States. As of late Tuesday morning, the highest 4-day official rainfall amount from Harvey was 49.32”. By noon, weather stations in the Houston area were getting totals of 45”, and four had rainfalls exceeding 50”.
The rains may be headed out of Houston, but the city’s flood worries are just beginning. Rainwater is still making its way through rivers and reservoirs. The biggest concerns are the dual Addicks and Barker Reservoirs, where backwater is pushing into neighborhoods. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, more than 3,000 structures behind the reservoirs are at risk of being inundated for as long as a month or more, as it will take time to empty the reservoirs safely
Source: CBS News, Wunderground