Harvey's 'Biblical' rainfall is getting more likely

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 01:25:23 AM. The chances of a hurricane flooding parts of Texas, like Harvey did, have soared sixfold in just 25 years because of global warming and will likely triple once again before the end of the century, a new study says. Study author Kerry Emanuel, a meteorology professor and hurricane expert at...
The chances of a hurricane flooding parts of Texas, like Harvey did, have soared sixfold in just 25 years because of global warming and will likely triple once again before the end of the century, a new study says. Study author Kerry Emanuel, a meteorology professor and hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that what was once an extremely rare event — 20 inches of rain over a large area of Texas — could soon be almost common. From 1981 to 2000, the probability of 20 inches of rain happening somewhere over a large chunk of Texas was 1 in 100 or even less, Emanuel said. Now it's 6 in 100 and by 2081, those odds will be 18 in 100, he said. "The changes in probabilities are because of global warming," Emanuel said. The study was released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Emanuel said he hurried the study to help Houston officials think about what conditions they should consider when they rebuild. Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said he was struck by the potential for much higher rainfall that Emanuel's simulations predict for the future and how important it is for the design of critical structures like dams and nuclear facilities. "If the worst-case precipitation scenario is getting worse, as Kerry's study and other evidence implies, that safety margin is shrinking," Nielsen-Gammon said in an email, highlighting Emanuel's results that also show the worst-case storms becoming wetter and more common. Gabriel...Read more
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