Judith Curry: Hurricane Harvey In Context

  • Date: 28/08/17
  • Judith Curry, Climate Etc

Anyone blaming  Harvey on global warming doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

The 12 year drought of major hurricane landfalls in the U.S. is over, with catastrophic impacts in Texas.  Predictions of Hurricane Harvey illustrate the realization of extended- and long-range hurricane forecasts.

This blog post analyzes the forecasts of Hurricane Harvey made by my company Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN), and also by the National Hurricane Center.

The models included in this analysis are:

  • ECMWF: 15 day HRES and ENS, and monthly (ENS extended)
  • NOAA:  15 day GFS and GEFS
  • CFAN:  calibrated tracks and intensities for ECMWF and NOAA models

The images of tracks and intensities from the NOAA GEFS and ECMWF shown here are CFAN’s calibrated tracks and intensities.  For further information about CFAN’s tropical cyclone forecast products and methods, see [link].

Hurricane Harvey – overview

An extensive summary Hurricane Harvey is provided by the Wikipedia:

Hurricane Harvey is a currently active tropical cyclone that recently made landfall in the US state of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. It is the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, ending a record 12-year period with no storms making landfall in the U.S. as a major hurricane.

Harvey developed from a tropical wave to the east of the Lesser Antilles on August 17. Upon entering the Caribbean Sea, Harvey began to weaken due to moderate wind shear and degenerated into a tropical wave early on August 19. [Harvey redeveloped] over the Bay of Campeche on August 23. Harvey then began to rapidly intensify on August 24, re-gaining tropical storm status and becoming a hurricane later that day. Harvey’s intensification phase stalled slightly overnight from August 24–25, however Harvey soon resumed strengthening and became a Category 4 hurricane late on August 25. Hours later, Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, at peak intensity.

The story of Hurricane Harvey is not yet over, as it continues to produce catastrophic rainfall in Texas and seems likely to re-enter the Gulf for some intensification and 2nd landfall in Texas or Louisiana. […]

Harvey in context

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear people blaming Harvey on global warming.  How unusual was Harvey?  Well, it will definitely be in the record books for ending the 12 year drought of major hurricanes striking the U.S.

Phil Klotzbach has prepared this list off Cat 4-5 U.S. landfalling hurricanes:

This list reminds us how awful things were.  Apart from the horrendous 2004/2005 years, we have been pretty lucky in recent decades.

Anyone blaming  Harvey on global warming doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Harvey will be in the record books for almost unbelievable amounts of rainfall (the final tally is not in yet; unfortunately it will still be raining in TX for several more days, with potential doubling of the amount that has already fallen).  While there was a large amount of water vapor ingested into Harvey, the huge amounts of rain are associated with Harvey’s stalled movement, while still close enough to the Gulf to continue to suck in moisture.

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