Hurricane Harvey vs. Houston

Jonathan Giles September 2, 2017 Gardening
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It wasn’t a fair fight. 24 trillion gallons of water does not fit into 627 square miles of Texas landscape.  I have read and have heard several discussions concerning the ability of the Houston area to absorb the water dumped on the area during the days hurricane Harvey hovered over Houston and was curious,

how much water can an area the size of Houston handle?

And, more interestingly,

how much grassland would be needed to absorb a hurricane the size of hurricane Harvey?

Using estimated rainfall information provided by news outlets (Washington Post, NPR) and a water absorption study published in the Farmer’s Magazine in 1861,  what are the numbers?  The absorption study assumes starting with dry land and the average absorption numbers calculated in the study.  Using high and  low rainfall estimates of 9 and 24 trillion gallons and absorption levels of 4, 6, 9, and 12 inches this is what I found.

It would require an area from 104 to 829 times the size of Houston to absorb the high and low waterfall estimates of Hurricane Harvey.

If Harvey had covered the state Texas, on the low end Texas would be ok.

On the high end even an area the size of the state of Texas could not handle all the rain.  It is hard to conceive the amount of rain which hit the area but is easy to understand why the extreme level of flooding occurred in the area.

How much water can an Acre of dry land absorb? Volume depends on the depth of absorption.

inches tons of water gallons of water
4 273 72118
6 408 107781
9 543 143444
12 816 215562

Total water converted to gallon/tons.  Acres required to absorb the water, depth of absorption.

gallons 4 inches 6 inches 9 inches 12 inches
low estimate 9 trillion 332,786,039 222,673,011 167,312,318 111,336,506
high estimate 24 trillion 124,794,765 83,502,379 62,742,119 41,751,190

Square miles required to absorb hurricane Harvey.

gallons 4 inches 6 inches 9 inches 12 inches
low estimate 9 trillion 194,992 130,472 98,035 65,236
high estimate 24 trillion 519,978 347,927 261,425 173,963

Houston is 627 Square miles. How many Houstons would it take to handle Harvey?.

gallons 4 inches 6 inches 9 inches 12 inches
low estimate 9 trillion 311 208 156 104
high estimate 24 trillion 829 555 417 277

Texas is 268,597 square miles. Could all of Texas handle Harvey?.

gallons 4 inches 6 inches 9 inches 12 inches
low estimate 9 trillion 0.73 0.49 0.36 0.24
high estimate 24 trillion 1.94 1.30 0.97 0.65

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