Hurricane Harvey is expected to hit Corpus Christi, Texas, late on Friday, and that will just be the start of it.
Over the next four or five days, the slow-moving storm could dump up to 35 inches of rain over the hardest-hit areas of Texas. Looking at a NOAA forecast this morning, meteorologist and writer Eric Holthaus tweeted,“This is scary. I have never seen a rainfall forecast like this in my entire career.”
All this is compounded by the unusual curve of Harvey’s projected path. After the hurricane makes landfall at Corpus Christi, it is expected to go back out toward the ocean and then make landfall second time near Houston. Hurricane flooding usually comes from some combination of rain and ocean water pushed inland by heavy winds.
“Usually, you don’t get peak rainfall and peak surge at the same time,” says Samuel Brody, a flood expert at Texas A&M University. If the forecast holds for Houston, rainwater would be running down streams and rivers while ocean water is surging up to meet it. In other words, that unprecedented amount of rain will have nowhere to go. “That would add catastrophe on top of catatrasophe,” says Brody.