Assumption of Flood Risk

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Alexander B. Lemann.

After spending four days dumping an unprecedented quantity of water on the Houston area, Hurricane Harvey finally slid off the coast to the south, leaving the city to begin the gradual process of wringing itself out and evaluating the damage. Major storms are often treated as showing us something we should have known all along. For many, Hurricane Harvey’s lesson was that the era of climate change—the Anthropocene—is well under way. By the time Harvey reached Houston it was no longer a particularly powerful storm, by the traditional measure of sustained wind speed. But, thanks to the fact that warmer air can hold more moisture, the quantity of water it dropped was truly immense. Multiple rainfall gauges in Houston recorded quantities of water that exceeded previous records in the continental United States by 26%.

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