By now everyone knows that Texas is still suffering from the aftermath of the potent Category 4 Hurricane Harvey that swept into the region over the weekend. After the natural disaster dumped more than 30 inches on the state and unleashed winds as strong as 130 mph, causing widespread destruction, weather forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) had no choice but to add another color to their rainfall map. Lavender now represents “unfathomable” amounts of rain.
In some Texan cities, rainfall is predicted to exceed 50 inches. This is the heaviest rainfall to result from a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane on record in U.S. history, reports Mashable. The NWS warns that catastrophic flooding is likely to continue and recommends that residents of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana stay off the roads.
— NWS (@NWS) August 28, 2017
Experts claim that it is more than likely climate change exacerbated Hurricane Harvey. The Guardian reports that rising sea levels attributable to global warming likely caused the storm to surge half a foot higher than it would have been just a few decades ago.
Warming ocean waters also play a role in the uptick of such fierce storms. Sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5 degrees Celsius (close to 1 degrees F) over the past decade; according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, there is a roughly 3 percent increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5 degrees C of warming. As a result of sea surface temperatures being warmer in the location where Harvey intensified, there was 3-5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere. This, too, intensified the storm.
Though scientists have warned that unsustainable habits would propel climate change and result in worsening natural disasters, few have heeded the advice and implemented change. It isn’t too late for humanity to invest in renewable technologies and reduce the collective carbon footprint but there isn’t much time before a “tipping point” is reached. Learn more here.