Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of Texas on Friday, landing as a Category 4 hurricane, the most destructive storm to hit that area in nearly 20 years. As Texas and the surrounding areas continue to endure extreme flooding, the National Weather Service (NWS) realized it had to make some changes to accommodate the historic levels of rain. The NWS added a color to its mapping for Harvey to be able to better display its rainfall.
Although Harvey weakened from a Category 4 hurricane to a tropical storm over the weekend, it has stuck around the Texas coast long enough for residents to experience historic rainfalls. Mashable reported that the NWS added a lavender color to the map to represent "unfathomable" amounts of rain.
According to Quartz, the NWS previously marked areas of rain only up to greater than 15 inches, indicated by a dark mauve color. Now, the NWS has added a dark purple to indicate 15-30 inches and lavender to display rainfalls more than 30 inches.
The Associated Press reported that the NWS predicted some areas of Texas may see up to 50 inches of rain from Harvey, which would not only be historic in Texas, but the largest amount of rain to come from a hurricane or tropical storm on U.S. soil. Since the rains began on Thursday, experts predicted that 12 trillion gallons of rain have hit Texas.
On Sunday, the 16 inch rains in Houston set a record for single-day rainfall in the city, according to Mashable. The New York Times reported that at least five people have died and dozens have been injured during the hurricane so far.
According to Scientific American, Harvey's unprecedented levels of rain despite taking place over land have to do with the way the storm is lingering over Texas. Because so much rain has already fallen, the water on the ground is being swept back up into the storm and being released one again onto the land. Two opposing winds west and east of the storm are keeping it in place for an extended period of time and ultimately allowing more water to fall.
As Texas braces for even more rains, the rest of the country can help out by sending money and supplies to those who need it most. Those in surrounding areas who are not affected by the storm can house others who have evacuated from the area. With a storm so unprecedented, and not yet knowing the full amount of damage, any bit helps.