Hurricane Harvey: 6 Years Later

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25 Aug 2023 7:35 PM

Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the mid-Texas Gulf Coast at Rockport, TX on August 25, 2017 as a Major, Category 4 Hurricane, packing winds of 130 mph. It was the first hurricane to hit South Texas in over 45 years: the last hurricane to strike the area was Celia on August 3, 1970.  

Harvey isn’t just remembered for the devastating winds but for the torrential rainfall that flooded the city of Houston. For2  days, over 40” of rain fell, turning roads into rivers and communities into lakes.  

Harvey first formed nearly 2 weeks before the Texas landfall, on August 13th as a tropical wave off the west coast of Africa. It remained an open, disorganized wave until August 17th when it became organized enough to become Tropical Cyclone Nine. Just a few hours later, it had sustained winds of 39+ mph, becoming “Harvey”. The storm passed through the Windward Islands and eventually into the eastern Caribbean as a tropical storm. It weakened into a tropical wave, before hitting the warm ocean waters of the Gulf and becoming a monster.  

On Wednesday, August 23rd, just two days before landfall, Tropical Depression Harvey reformed. The “stalling” nature of the storm was expected in the early forecasts but the intensity up to a CAT 4 was shocking. Initial forecasts called for Harvey to strengthen to a CAT 1 hurricane, but environmental conditions came together for explosive development.  

In just 40 hours, Harvey went from a tropical storm to a Major Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph. Extreme wind warnings were issued for the Texas Coast as Harvey made landfall on San Jose Island and then near Rockport at 10 PM CT on the night of August 25th. The highest measured wind gust as Harvey came ashore was 145 mph! Storm surge was over 12’ above ground level at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge.  

The storm wasn’t done when it made landfall – Harvey barely moved for 48 hours over south Texas, with torrential rain impacting the greater Houston area. Numerous rain reports of over 4 FEET were seen in SE Texas. The highest rainfall report was 60.58” near Nederland, Texas and another report of 60.54” Groves, Texas. The rainfall from Harvey became the highest rainfall ever recorded in North America.  

Sadly, 68 people lost their lives as a direct result of Harvey, the deadliest tropical system in Texas since 1919. 

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