By Katelynn Fleming
This past week, Hurricane Harvey swept through western Texas and much of Louisiana, defying Texas state records on sustained landfall. With winds of 110 mph, gusts up to 132 mph and storm surges up to 10 feet in coastal areas, it is no surprise that Harvey imbued affected areas with intense flooding. Estimates of damage, primarily caused by flooding, range wildly from $45-$180 billion, as predicted by Reuters.com.
Harvey began as a tropical cyclone, which dissipated several times before becoming an actual threat. According to the Weather Channel’s website, the damage was primarily caused by the extremely slow movement. Harvey was predicted on Wednesday, August 25, to remain a tropical storm throughout its life cycle. However, its path shifted northwest, and it hit the warm gulf waters, which are known for increasing the intensity of hurricanes. As a result of the path change, meteorologists predicted it to make landfall in Texas, and hurricane warnings were issued. By the time the storm’s eye was nearing the coast of Texas on Saturday, August 26, Harvey had grown into a Category 4 hurricane, defined as having wind speeds of 130-156 mph.The storm’s movement paused after hitting land with incredibly destructive effects on coastal areas including Houston and its surrounding area. NOAA describes the damage due to a Category 4 hurricane as “catastrophic. . . . Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months,” and it certainly has lived up to their expectations. The storm maintained high winds and consistently rained on the same area, causing the extreme floods, mudslides and general destruction that has been Harvey’s legacy.
This is in part due to climate change which causes difference in weather patterns and temperatures which are contributing factors to storm formation; these hurricanes form over warm ocean waters so with rising temperatures comes more hurricanes. Soon after Harvey, more storms are on the way with Hurricane Irma, currently a Category 5 hurricane, as well as tropical storms Jose and Katia. More destruction can be expected with these storms on the way, and Drew will soon start a donation program so students can help those affected by these disasters.