Galveston County and the greater Houston region face an increasing risk of Hurricane Harvey-scale rainfall because of climate change, a new study from a leading meteorologist and hurricane expert said.

The Houston region is six times more likely to experience Harvey-like rain in any given year than it was just two decades ago because of climate change, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study published this week in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Between 1981 and 2000, there was a 1 percent annual chance of experiencing rainfall of Harvey’s magnitude in Texas, according to the study by Kerry Emanuel, a meteorology professor and hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

By 2017, the odds of those storms had increased to a 6 percent annual chance, according to the study. And models suggest those chances will increase to 18 percent by 2081 if the growth of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere continues unmitigated, according to the study.

“You’re rolling the dice every year,” Emanuel said. “When you take a very, very rare, extreme rainfall event like Hurricane Harvey, and you shift the distribution of rain toward heavier amounts because of climate change, you get really big changes in the probability of those rare events.”

City leaders need to take into consideration changing weather patterns as they prepare for the future, Emanuel said.

“Should you be putting in a more advanced storm-sewer system that may cost billions of dollars, or not?” Emanuel said. “The answer to that question depends upon whether you think Harvey was a one-off — very unlikely to happen anytime in the next 100 years — or whether it may be more common than you thought.”

Harvey dumped a U.S.-storm record of 5 feet of rain across southeastern Texas in late August, leading to catastrophic flooding and killing at least 70 people in the state, while likely causing more than $150 billion in damage, according to the study.

Scientists are modifying how they calculate the likelihood of storms and “biblical” rainfall because historical records provide little insight. That’s because records are spotty and the period from which rainfall has been collected is short, according to the study.

And climate change is shifting the odds of high-intensity storms, the study said. Scientists have started moving toward climate-based models to try and forecast future storms, according to the university.

To conduct the study, Emanuel used computer models to simulate past, present and future storms in Texas. The researchers used actual data from more than 3,000 storms that passed within 300 kilometers of Houston between 1980 and 2016, according to the study.

The team ran these hurricane models under likely future scenarios to predict future risk, according to the study.

Marissa Barnett: 409-683-5257; marissa.barnett@galvnews.com

(41) comments

PD Hyatt

ROFLOL@ the article.... There is no science that can be proved about "climate Change" or any other hokey term that the leftist progressives want to use.... All AGW is about is government control over the masses and the transfer of wealth from the US to the world....

Jean Casanave

I think over time there has and will be changes to the climate but don't believe it's man made nor do I think man can change any outcome of the changes. What the cities can do is not issue permits to build within certain distances of the shore or pay to rebuild homes that have a history of flooding AND get the drainage issues solved. I think heavy rains of historic proportions will happen again, people just have to be ready. We should be learning from all of this.

Cindy Milina

I absolutely agree with you. The earth has a low speed wobble in addition to its rotation that affects temperatures at the poles by an alarming 1-1 1/2 degrees. 😂

Mark Aaron

Cindy: [ I absolutely agree with you. The earth has a low speed wobble in addition to its rotation that affects temperatures at the poles by an alarming 1-1 1/2 degrees. ]

NASA disagrees. Why wouldn't you trust their expertise?

https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

Mark Aaron

Jean: [I think over time there has and will be changes to the climate but don't believe it's man made nor do I think man can change any outcome of the changes.]

NASA says you are misinformed and that there is a global consensus among climate scientists who say man is creating the climate changes. Is there a reason you don't believe NASA?

Carlos Ponce

"Late last week, a study published by NASA scientists in the Journal of Glaciology made the surprising claim that the gigantic continent of Antarctica is actually gaining ice, rather than losing it, to the tune of 82 gigatons (or billion metric tons) per year from 2003 to 2008."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/05/a-controversial-nasa-study-says-antarctica-is-gaining-ice-heres-why-you-should-stay-skeptical/

Mark Aaron

Paul: [ROFLOL@ the article.... There is no science that can be proved about "climate Change" or any other hokey term that the leftist progressives want to use.... All AGW is about is government control over the masses and the transfer of wealth from the US to the world.... ]

NASA says you are misinformed:

_"Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. "_

https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

Carlos Ponce

97 percent. You still believe that manipulation of stats? What a maroon!

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [97 percent. You still believe that manipulation of stats? What a maroon!]

Gee, who to believe: NASA or the GCDN's answer to Kelleyanne Conway?

Cindy Milina

Fear mongering at it’s finest. When I was young, the battle cry was the “Second Ice Age.” After several years of scorching summers, it was magically flipped to “global warming.” After many years of no supporting data of that, it became “climate change.” Yeah, they're called seasons, and this is the biggest hoax ever perpetuated on the world. It has made Al Gore a very wealthy man; able to live in an obscenely large house, driven by armed body guards in gas guzzling SUVs, and flying around the world to spew his propaganda in private chartered jets.

Mark Aaron

Cindy: [ and this is the biggest hoax ever perpetuated on the world. It has made Al Gore a very wealthy man; able to live in an obscenely large house, driven by armed body guards in gas guzzling SUVs, and flying around the world to spew his propaganda in private chartered jets. ]

So you believe that the overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists are in on a hoax to help Al Gore and the Liberals Cindy? Do you have any evidence you can point to?

Carlos Ponce

“biblical” rainfall - If you study the Bible you would know the reason for the climate, the weather, the politics, the divisions. It was all forecast in the Bible long ago.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ If you study the Bible you would know the reason for the climate, the weather, the politics, the divisions. It was all forecast in the Bible long ago.]

Are you saying everything is predestined Carlos?

Carlos Ponce

Not predestined, but known. God is, God was and God will be. Time was created for our benefit. God transcends time. Notice how he took John out of his time and placed him in what we call John's future. God knows what will happen because He's there in the future. It's a difficult concept for many since we live a linear existence. But can things change? Yes they can. That's why God places people in your path of life if He knows you are on the wrong one.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ Time was created for our benefit. God transcends time. Notice how he took John out of his time and placed him in what we call John's future. God knows what will happen because He's there in the future.]

What part of the Christian bibles do you get that from?

Gary Miller

This guy became an "expert" by accepting a grant requiring him to produce climate change fear mongering.

Mark Aaron

Gary: [ This guy became an "expert" by accepting a grant requiring him to produce climate change fear mongering.]

Do you have any evidence to support that claim Gary?

Steve Fouga

It won't matter to most of us, one way or the other, because we will have to move. Our Congress seems determined to pass legislation that will make flood insurance unaffordable for most of us living in flood-prone areas. They will do this in the name of privatization. See article running currently in Daily news.

Carlos Ponce

Steve posts: "because we will have to move".
According to Al Gore's predictions, Galveston went underwater back in 2015. You must be a good swimmer, Steve.[beam]

Steve Fouga

Best case for me is that sea level rise is fake news, and Congress never figures out how to make flood insurance exorbitant.

Worst case is Congress prices me away from the Coast, or an Al-Gore-like event swamps the Island.

A big irony is that my neighborhood has not flooded since the seawall was built. You would think that would make me safe, both from Al Gore and the Government, but you never know.

I'm a decent swimmer, but I always wear a personal flotation device when kayaking. [cool]

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ According to Al Gore's predictions, Galveston went underwater back in 2015.]

Was that your attempt at a joke, Carlos, or do actually believe that accusation to be true?

Carlos Ponce

It's true and documented. Do a web search. Don't worry. Since it didn't happen, Algore has changed his mind.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ It's true and documented. ]

Do you have a credible link to that documentation Carlos?

Gary Scoggin

Marissa, thanks for blowing the climate dog whistle. It’s always interesting to see the science deniers turn out in force.

Carlos Ponce

There is science and then there's FAKE science. Man made climate change falls into the later category. It was based on faulty data.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [ There is science and then there's FAKE science. Man made climate change falls into the later category. It was based on faulty data.]

Poor Carlos, duped yet again.

Carlos Ponce

Little Marky, when you falsify data to obtain a pre-determined outcome that's FAKE SCIENCE. They LIED. Little Marky was DUPED, BIG TIME!

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Little Marky, when you falsify data to obtain a pre-determined outcome that's FAKE SCIENCE. They LIED. Little Marky was DUPED, BIG TIME!]

Poor Carlos, duped yet again. Several credible academic studies have discounted all of those bogus claims as cherry picked and out of context. They found no wrongdoing. You were duped. Craig and I have already been through all of this a couple months ago. Perhaps you could use your library skills, find that thread, and reread it. It will address all of your misapprehensions about man's role in global warming.

Carlos Ponce

I bet Little Marky has problems with each cited source I provide.[rolleyes]
"The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/11395516/The-fiddling-with-temperature-data-is-the-biggest-science-scandal-ever.html
"Climategate, the sequel: How we are STILL being tricked with flawed data on global warming"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11367272/Climategate-the-sequel-How-we-are-STILL-being-tricked-with-flawed-data-on-global-warming.html

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [I bet Little Marky has problems with each cited source I provide. ]

There is only one reason why you would predicate your post with that apologia Carlos, and we both know what it is. The Telegraph is for the rich Conservatives in the UK. Kind of like the Wall Street Journal here. Both have very biased conservative opinion sections.

Have you looked for that old thread?

Carlos Ponce

If it isn't Liberally biased news media, Little Malarkey won't believe.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [If it isn't Liberally biased news media, Little Malarkey won't believe.]

How many times do we have to have this conversation about sources before you stop pretending you don't know the difference Carlos?

Left-bias | Objective | Right-bias.

Most professional news services are objective. Just because something isn't right-biased doesn't mean it is left-biased. Odds are much, much higher that the source is objective. You, Carlos, are forced to pretend that the much larger objective middle doesn't exist. Explain why that is.

Carlos Ponce

I notice that only Liberals hear "dog whistles".

Gary Scoggin

Carlos - LOL my friend. Nobody responds to a dog whistle like a tried and true Conservative.

Carlos Ponce

Conservatives don't hear them. Have you noticed only LIBERALS hear them? In in their posts.

Steve Fouga

Carlos, it's not fake science; it's the kind of science that happens when the scientists are still trying to understand cause-and-effect of complicated phenomena. Most "feel sure," but can't yet prove it.

For many of us, it doesn't matter what we (or in this case you) THINK, because certain government sectors are acting as if climate change is real and dangerous. Flood plains are being redefined, building codes revised, city plans revisited, military strategies reworked, shipping routes re-explored, insurance rates increased.

Carlos Ponce

It's FAKE SCIENCE when you falsify data to obtain pre-determined results.
Why would they do this?
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Steve Fouga

I disagree with you, but an important point is that MANY DECISION MAKERS believe the science, AND THEY'RE ACTING ON IT, whether you believe it or not. These actions will impact all off us, especially here in SE TX.

Gary Scoggin

You mean like they do at the Creation Museum?

Steve Fouga

[beam][whistling][unsure]

Mark Aaron

What Gary said. [tongue]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.