Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall In United States
Hurricane Harvey, introduced earlier this week just made landfall in Texas, USA. It is also called as the first Category 4 hurricane (category 5 being the strongest) to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Charley. The winds have been observed up to 130 miles per hour in the coastal areas of Texas.
During early days of this system, it was called as a tropical storm and it has built up to this level during last two days. Houston and Galveston areas of Texas are expected to have very high level of rain and warnings of isolated tornadoes are already given out.
Hurricane hunters (air crafts assessing the hurricane) Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo have been reporting the characteristics of the hurricane by the time of landfall. These aircrafts closely study the behavior of the eye of the hurricane and also monitor the wind speeds and power. The aircrafts used by NOAA for these missions are Lockheed WP-3D four-engine turboprops. One parameter that they measure at the eye of the hurricane is the Saffir-Simpson scale ranges from Category 1 hurricanes with a barometric pressure of greater than 980 millibars that cause minimal damage, to Category 5 hurricanes with a central pressure of less than 920 millibars. In a recent report an operator at a hurricane hunter (Kermit) reported that the observed pressure in 967 millibars.
Heavy floods and infrastructure damage are expected in the state of Texas. People are advised to evacuate and some of the areas maybe uninhabitable in the coming days based on the level of wind damage and flood damage. It was observed that many supermarkets had run out of supplies like water and batteries.
Major concerns of the people are how seemingly unprepared the communities are to face these kind of disasters that escalates in short time periods. At the same time, forecasting a hurricane is still a challenge due to the quick escalations we have seen in the recent past. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 developed up to a category 5 hurricane overnight and caused incredible damage. In the hurricane Harvey’s case it is expected that the severity will decrease towards inland but rain will continue at least until middle of next week.
Live NASA footage of the hurricane’s path can be observed here.