Hurricane Harvey Dumps Trillions Of Gallons Of Water On Texas
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
The amount of rain that has fallen in Texas is hard to imagine. Here's one way to do it, though.
MATTHEW CAPPUCCI: If you took the Empire State Building, more than a hundred stories tall, you could fill that entire volume 33,000 times with the water that fell on Houston and the surrounding areas. That shows you how much there was.
MCEVERS: Matthew Cappucci spent the weekend making these calculations, trying to get his own head around what's happened. He's a student of atmospheric sciences at Harvard and writes for The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.
CAPPUCCI: The National Weather Service used the words unprecedented to describe the amount of rainfall and the rapidity with which it fell. And it truly is absolutely remarkable.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Cappucci estimates that in a 36-hour period, roughly 9 trillion gallons of water fell on the Houston area.
CAPPUCCI: So we can get some numbers that high - 9 trillion. It really is an incredible number. But it's really tough to visualize.
SHAPIRO: But he's trying. Here's another way to think of the magnitude.
CAPPUCCI: Fourteen million Olympic-size swimming pools. And picture that just sitting there. And that is why we're seeing such amazing flooding in the Houston area.
MCEVERS: Cappucci has yet another way of picturing this. He says that if you took that amount of water, 9 trillion gallons, and spread it equally over the 48 contiguous states, it would equal .17 inches of rain covering the country.
CAPPUCCI: If we took three pennies, put them on top of each other, that's how high it would stack up. It'd be a rainy day everywhere. And picture that crammed in just one small county area.
SHAPIRO: And it's not over yet. The forecast shows more rain in Texas through Friday. One more note - the colors that the National Weather Service uses to show rainfall on its maps, shades of yellow, red and orange - they couldn't represent the amounts seen in southeastern Texas. So it added two new shades of purple.
MCEVERS: We'll bring you more about the storm's path and about the devastation from Harvey throughout the show. And our coverage continues tomorrow beginning with MORNING EDITION.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE SIX PARTS SEVEN'S "STOLEN MOMENTS")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.