Science & Technology



Odds of Harvey-like rains coming to Texas on the rise, scientists say

Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

So much for the storm of the century.

A new study suggests that massive hurricanes like Harvey are expected to strike Houston and Texas with much greater frequency in the future than they do now.

Blame our changing climate.

According to a study published Monday in PNAS, the odds of Harvey-like rains drenching the city of Houston will grow from 1 in 2,000 at the beginning of the 21st century to 1 in 100 at the end of the century.

For Texas as a whole, the outlook is even worse.

The frequency of hurricanes with rains in excess of 20 inches occurring anywhere in the state will jump from a once in a 100-year event at the end of the 20th century to a once in 5.5 year occurrence at the end of the 21st century.


The new work was led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel, who specializes in hurricanes.

To come to these conclusions, Emanuel relied on hurricane models that are used by the National Hurricane Center to forecast hurricanes in real time.

He also used an array of six global climate models that take into account a standard, business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenario.

"I wanted to be as open-minded as possible, so I didn't apply this technique to just one climate model, but rather to as many climate models as I could lay my hand on," he said.


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