Thursday, August 31, 2017


First, let me say that I was very fortunate in that Harvey was mostly a big rain storm that just wouldn't stop.  Houston is occasionally prone to events I call "The Week That It Rained," which are different than actual tropical cyclones.  These are heavy and long lasting rain events where, it rains for a week or more, usually flooding some part of the Houston or another.  For me, Harvey felt like one of those events - it rained a lot and was overcast for a week, but except for two small power outages (one for 30 minutes and one for 2 hours), I wasn't particularly in danger, nor was my property.  The area I live in only received 21 inches (53.3 cm), or about half a year of rain, over the four days Harvey threatened.

Not everyone was that lucky.

One of my friends lives in the (upside) vicinity of the Addicks Reservoir and faced mandatory evacuation Tuesday.  He's now in Austin at his brother-in-laws place with his wife and two kids.  My in-laws' neighborhood became an island, with all roads in flooded at some point.  This happened to several other friends as well, whose homes became islands as the streets flooded in their neighborhoods.  For some this was expected as it is how their neighborhood deals with heavy rains.  For others, this was the first time it ever happened.  Rainfall levels ranged from 30-50 inches (76-127 cm) over the four days of the storm, depending on where in the Houston area they live [I can't find the official map right now].

At this moment, no one I know personally had water in their home, but that may change as some were evacuated and haven't been back to check yet.  I attribute this statistical anomaly to the fact that most of my friends are long term Houston residents and researched what potential flood plain their home might be on before buying.  Most of us are on the 500+ year flood plain, which is as high as regulations require designating.  I suspect that might change in the next couple of years.

You might have seen pictures online showing flooded freeways with Downtown in the background [I can't find the image I've seen now and it's late enough I have to pack it in for work tomorrow].  One of my routes to work goes through that area.  It is clear now and I'm going in to the office tomorrow for the first time since Harvey approached the coast last Friday.  The biggest flooding was on the south-southwest-west sides of town and those parts of those areas will have water for up to two weeks or so as the rivers slowly empty.  Most of the bayous are already way down, with the notable exception of Buffalo Bayou, which is being fed by the release of waters from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs [to avoid complete failure of their retaining walls].

That's it for this week.  I hope to have something more game related for next week.



  1. Still alive, not drowned, house not under water, that's already enough news ^^ .

    What could be done to improve the state situation in case something like that happen again ? I'm curious

  2. [Blogger ate my first response, so let's try again.]

    The first thing we need to do is not get a year's worth of rain in 4 days. If we can avoid that it would be great! ;)

    More seriously, Harvey was an anomaly and far out-lier. All the water remediation plans in Houston worked like they were supposed to and if we had "only" received half of what we did, flooding would have been minor and localized. Houston is built in a swamp - you can't get away from that. The land is flat with little slope.

    I think planning and building an infrastructure designed to handle Harvey would be excessive with only one datapoint to work with (Harvey). If the US started receiving that kind of hurricane with any frequency shorter than once a decade, then additional planning and remediation would be called for.

    1. Thank you for your data ^^ . I hope irma and Jose will not be too harsh on america (for the islands, that's too late already :( ).