Jan. 26 (UPI) — Hurricane Harvey dumped heavy amounts of rainfall over an “overwhelming” area of Texas in August, making it the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history, a report from the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
The report said Harvey set the U.S. rainfall record from a tropical cyclone at 60.58 inches near Nederland, Texas. The previous record was 52 inches in Hawaii in 1950. Seven rainfall stations recorded more than the previous 52-inch record, 18 recorded more than the mainland record of 28 inches.
The unusually high rain totals can be attributed to the fact that the Category 4 storm was slow moving once it hit the Texas coast.
The storm stalled “with its center over or near the Texas coast for four days, dropping historic amounts of rainfall of more than 60 inches over southeastern Texas,” the report said.
Eric Blake, the lead author of the report, described Hurricane Harvey as a 1-in-1,000-year storm.
“Really ran out of words to describe how anomalous this event was,” he tweeted.
He said there may have been higher rainfall totals in certain areas of Texas that lacked flood gauges high enough to record them. Radar estimated totals up to 70 inches.
But it’s not just the rainfall totals that stunned scientists, it’s how widespread the rain was.
“While the peak rainfall amounts were exceptional over Texas, the areal extent of heavy rainfall is truly overwhelming, literally and figuratively,” the report said.
“Harvey was the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in United States history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts, since reliable rainfall records began around the 1880s.”
The NHC blamed Harvey directly for 68 deaths — making it the deadliest hurricane to hit the state since 1919 — and indirectly for 35 deaths attributed to “electrocution, motor-vehicle crashes and isolation from necessary medical services.”
The report estimates Harvey caused between $90 billion and $160 billion in damage, the second costliest disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.