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Harvey and Seattle

Posted: August 30th, 2017

Every time extreme rainfall and flooding affect a major American city, people ask about Seattle’s preparedness. “What if we received 50 inches of rainfall?” Over the next few weeks, I’ll use this (admittedly neglected) space to explore just how extreme rainfall could get in Seattle and how it relates to what’s happened in Texas.

 

Most locals understand that 4 feet in less than a week is not possible, but the reasons why may not be as clear. The short answer is that ocean temperatures fuel storms, and the North Pacific is nowhere near as warm as the Gulf of Mexico. But we also know that our climate is changing, as is land use and the ways we are or are not responding politically.

 

Our present thoughts are with Houston and Gulf Coast residents suffering from the catastrophe that is Harvey. As recovery begins, let’s figure out how to avoid repeat in Hurricane Alley, future flooding in Seattle, and a real solution to global warming.