Texas’ Gulf Coast was crippled over the weekend by catastrophic flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey, which dumped as much as 30 inches of rain on some parts of Houston and the surrounding region. Forecasters say the worst is yet to come, with an additional 25 inches of rain expected through this week as the storm meanders northeast.
Roads, buildings, and homes in Houston, the United States’ fourth-largest city with 2.3 million people, were submerged under several feet of water Monday morning. Baytown, Texas, a city 30 miles east of Houston with several major oil refineries, had received nearly 35 inches of rain as of Monday morning. The Brazos River was expected to crest at a record 59 feet, 14 feet above its flood stage, according to Reuters. More than 30,000 people are expected to need temporary shelters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As the rain continues to fall through Thursday, rivers as far away as 150 miles north of Houston will continue to swell, and forecasters warn that flooding will only intensify for communities downstream.
In total, Harvey is expected to dump up to 50 inches of rain on the region in less than a week. The storm is also expected to severely impact parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and southern Arkansas as it moves northeast.
Harvey’s intense rainfall is fueled by the Gulf of Mexico’s above-average water temperatures, which are as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F) warmer than a few decades ago, according to climate scientist Michael Mann. Add a higher storm surge caused by recent sea level rise and “Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming,” Mann writes in The Guardian.