Saturday evening update, Sept. 2: The overwhelming majority of Harvey’s rains are over, and we have a new calculation for the total volume of water it dispensed on U.S. soil: 33 trillion gallons. This number incorporates the rainfall not only in Texas and Louisiana, but also in Tennessee and Kentucky, which also experienced torrents.
Thanks to meteorologist Ryan Maue, for assisting with the calculation.
So much rain has fallen in such a short amount of time, it will take weeks for it to fully drain. In low-lying areas and basements, it will take volunteers to physically pump the water out. Disease, unfortunately, will fester in this water as the sun comes out, and Texas summer heat returns.
It’s probably impossible to truly comprehend how much water has fallen in Texas and Louisiana. But there are comparisons we can make that help paint a picture.
First, there are 18 trillion gallons of water in the Chesapeake Bay. So that’s not even a good comparison. (Ava Marie)
If you piled up 20 trillion gallons of water over the District of Columbia (approximately 68 square miles), the height of the water would be 1,410 feet — or almost the height of the Empire State Building. (Ryan Maue)
The amount of rain that fell in Texas and Louisiana would have ended the historic California drought, twice over. (Paul Deanno)
Over Harris County alone — which is home to Houston — 1 trillion gallons of water fell in the four days from Saturday through Tuesday. That’s as much water as flows over Niagara Falls in 15 days. (Jeff Lindner)
It’s enough to cover the entire state of Arizona in more than a foot of water.