Quantcast
Popular
Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas Gulf Coast in this satellite image by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Aug. 25. NOAA

'Unprecedented,' Historic Storm Dumps Trillions of Tons of Water on Texas

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast this weekend, growing from a regenerated tropical depression into a Category 4 hurricane in less than 60 hours.

The now-tropical storm has stalled inland over Texas, and the entire Houston metropolitan region is now flooding.


With interstates under feet of water, and most of the streams and rivers near the city in flood stage, local authorities have asked boat owners to join rescue efforts. At least five people have died, and the city is prepping for thousands of evacuees this week. Officials predict 50 more inches of rain could be dumped on the area this week.

"It may have been a strong storm, and it may have caused a lot of problems anyway—but [human-caused climate change] amplifies the damage considerably," Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research told The Atlantic.

According to The Atlantic:

"Storms like Harvey are helped by one of the consequences of climate change: As the air warms, some of that heat is absorbed by the ocean, which in turn raises the temperature of the sea's upper layers.

Harvey benefitted from unusually toasty waters in the Gulf of Mexico. As the storm roared toward Houston last week, sea-surface waters near Texas rose to between 2.7 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. These waters were some of the hottest spots of ocean surface in the world. The tropical storm, feeding off this unusual warmth, was able to progress from a tropical depression to a category-four hurricane in roughly 48 hours."

As reported by ThinkProgress:

"A Propublica/Texas Tribune project from last March detailed Houston's vulnerability to a major storm. The title of the project is 'Hell and High Water,' and it chronicles what could happen. 'A major hurricane here could bring economic and ecological disaster,' they wrote, including flood damage, destruction of entire low-lying neighborhoods, devastation to Galveston, and a massive disruption of our country's oil and shipping industries:

'Such a storm would devastate the Houston Ship Channel, shuttering one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. Flanked by 10 major refineries—including the nation's largest—and dozens of chemical manufacturing plants, the Ship Channel is a crucial transportation route for crude oil and other key products, such as plastics and pesticides. A shutdown could lead to a spike in gasoline prices and many consumer goods—everything from car tires to cell phone parts to prescription pills.'

As Texans flee for higher ground, the oil and gas infrastructure that lines the state's coast will remain in the heart of the storm. There is a bitter irony to the idea that a storm, strengthened by human-caused climate change, carries the potential to destroy the very oil infrastructure that has contributed so much warming to our world."

For a deeper dive:

Climate change and Harvey: The Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, Time, ThinkProgress. Damage, flooding, rain: New York Times, AP, CNN, Washington Post, Bloomberg, Vox, Mashable, Grist, ThinkProgress, Newsy. Commentary: New York Times, Mimi Swartz column, USA Today, James Lee Witt op-ed, NPR, Dr. Neil Frank interview, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Tony Messenger column. Background: Climate Signals

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Oceans

Acting Sub Lt.niwat Thumma / EyeEm / Getty Images

Plastic Straw Bans Have Unintended Consequences for People with Disabilities

The movement to ban plastic straws has gained major momentum this month, with Seattle's ban going into effect July 1 and companies like Starbucks, Hyatt and American Airlines all agreeing to phase the sucking devices out as well.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrive to attend a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. YURI KADOBNOV / AFP / Getty Images

'Traitor' Trump 'Colludes' With Putin Over Oil

By Andy Rowell

A "traitor." "Putin's Poodle." "Open Treason." These are just some of the harsh headlines to greet Trump after yesterday's summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The papers back home were indignant with rage. The New York Times called Trump Putin's "lackey." The paper said that this was the summit that Putin had dreamed of for eighteen years, and Trump had willingly obliged.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Hero Images / Getty Images

How to Have Your Healthiest Summer Cookout Ever

By Isabel Walston, EWG Intern

Summer is in full swing, which means many Americans are planning cookouts complete with friends, family and fresh food. Whether you're having a casual kickback or a big bash, Environmental Working Group (EWG) has you covered with tips and tricks to keep your summer cookout fun-filled and healthy.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Doha, Qatar. Pixabay

Will Climate Change Make the Next World Cup Too Hot to Handle?

By Aimee Sison

After four weeks of fanfare, the 2018 World Cup has come to a close. France's victory in Sunday's final marked the end of a summer filled with thrilling victories, surprise defeats, national pride (and disappointment), penalty kick-induced panic and many other emotions associated with soccer.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Fairfax County / CC BY-ND 2.0

Protect Yourself From Disease-Carrying Ticks, Mosquitoes With EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents

A number of factors should come into play when you're choosing a bug repellent: what part of the country you live in, where you plan to travel, whether you're pregnant and whether you are planning to use the product on children. EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents can help you find the right product for yourself and your family.

No repellent works every place against every pest, so it is worth researching the diseases insects and ticks carry where you plan to spend time outside. The repellent you might choose for a backpacking trip in Colorado could be different from the one that might suffice for a picnic on an East Coast beach.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Bigbiggerboat / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sea Level Rise Could Sink Internet Infrastructure

Sea level rise may be coming for your Internet.

The first ever study to look at the impact of climate change on the Internet found that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable in U.S. coastal regions will be underwater within 15 years and 1,000 traffic hubs will be surrounded, a University of Wisconsin (UW)—Madison press release reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Adidas shoes made with Parley ocean plastics. Adidas

Adidas Will Use Only Recycled Plastics by 2024

Adidas has long been committed to the fight against single-use plastics. Since 2015, it has partnered with Parley for the Oceans to respond to the plastic pollution crisis threatening marine life. In June, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted announced the company had sold one million shoes made from plastic collected and recycled from the oceans.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!