What is Hurricane Harvey?https://indianexpress.com/article/what-is/what-is-hurricane-harvey-united-states-texas-coast-landfall-preparations-damage-4814172/

What is Hurricane Harvey?

Hurricane Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 30 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 40 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast through next Wednesday.

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The International Space Station orbited over Hurricane Harvey and photographed the storm bearing down on the Texas coast. (Source: NASA)

What is Hurricane Harvey?

Harvey is the strongest tropical hurricane to make landfall in the United States after the category 5 Hurricane Wilma that ravaged Florida in 2005. According to the National Hurricane Centre, it developed from a tropical wave on August 17 cruising through Gulf of Mexico. According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) situation report, Harvey is the eighth named Storm for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season which formed near the Windward Islands on August 17. The hurricane impacted Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Martinique and Dominica on the same day. It accelerated westward as it approached Barbados around 8:00 pm at a speed of 18 mph (30km/h) and brought maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (65km/h) with higher gusts. NHC has predicted an increased wind speed of  140 miles per hour (225km/h) and 40 inches of rain (1 metre) as it makes landfall in Texas.

Hurricanes derive their energy from heated seawater which can be prevented by presence of upper-level-winds that disrupt the storm circulation forcing it to lose its strength.

Hurricane Rating

Hurricanes are rated on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale ranging between 1-5 based on the wind speed. Hurricanes categorised under 3 and above are considered major hurricanes as they cause severe damage to life and property in its route. Harvey which has now been upgraded to category 4 is the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in US after Wilma that occurred in 2005 in Florida. Harvey is the strongest hurricane to make impact in Texas after the 1961 Hurricane Carla.

Warnings issued

NHC in its latest bulletin has issued severe warnings. According to NHC, Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 30 inches and isolated maximum amounts of 40 inches over the middle and upper Texas coast through next Wednesday. During the same time period Harvey is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 5 to 15 inches in far south Texas and the Texas Hill Country over through southwest and central Louisiana.

Rainfall of this magnitude will cause catastrophic and life-threatening flooding. The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will flood the dry areas on the coast with water moving inland from the shoreline reaching upto a height of 9 to 13 ft. The bulletin also indicates that Swells generated by Harvey will affect Texas, Louisiana, and northeast Mexico coasts. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Emergency Preparations

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President Donald Trump who has so far rejected the science behind environmental and climate change in the world with moving out of the Paris Accord this year faces one of the toughest jobs with the Hurricane Harvey making landfall in Texas. Earlier, Trump spoke with the Texas Governor Greg Abott Thursday about preparations ahead of the storm. Abbott urged local citizens to evacuate from low-lying and coastal areas immediately as the administration prepares to tackle the situation in the finals hours before Harvey makes impact. A storm surge warning has already been issued by the NHC in areas of Corpus Christi in Texas. Abbot has said that Trump has pledged of all support with government resources in assisting, relief and rescue missions to the state of Texas. The damage will be substantial as Texans flee to safety outside the state.