USGS report says Harvey officially most significant rainfall in history; African dust cripples tropical development

HOUSTON - It's official!  The United States Geological Survey reports this week that Hurricane Harvey is the most significant rainfall event in United States history.

The new record is 60.58 inches near Nederland, Texas.

“I remember being outside at 2 in the morning just praying to stop, it was slacking off, but it never wanted to stop,” said Chris Duque, City Manager for City of Nederland.

The new numbers flush out the previous record of 48 inches of rain set in 1978 during Tropical Storm Amelia.

“Well of course it's not a record anybody wants. We did have about 600 homes and waters that did take damage from the flood, but some of our neighbors had so much worse,” said Duque.

There is a weather pattern in place right now that's providing some tropical relief to our area.

Despite its significance, it’s still something you're likely to sneeze at.  African dust!

“The more dust we have, the less chance we have for any tropical development, and if you have a development already there, it will actually weaken the storm,” said meteorology tropical weather expert at DTN, Aaron Studwell.  “African dust really impacts tropical weather with several factors. One, it's dry air, and it's dry air in the middle levels so as that dry air gets entrained, it calms down any convective or tropical development. The other thing it does is cool sea surface temperatures, so by keeping less sun rays, and sunlight coming in.”

So while the dust irritates asthma and allergies, it's pretty much Kryptonite to tropical weather formation.  It's a double-edged sword, but one some are willing to face.

“I live in Lakewood Forest, and I got about 21 inches of water in my home during Harvey. l was one of those people last weekend that coughed my head off like crazy with all the African dust but I guess in the end, I’d rather cough for a couple weeks than have my house flood again so I’d say it's definitely worth it,” said Kathryn Hanzelka.

It's not a long-term solution, or even a short-term one we have any kind of control over.  Just something to think about this weekend when the dust makes its second appearance over the Houston skyline.  Sure the dust is annoying... but if it zaps the strength of a storm, is it really all bad?

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