New items seen on the weather desk.

Published: Nov. 24, 2017 at 8:02 PM CST
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With the 2017 Atlantic Basin hurricane season about to finish, new information on the staggering price tag is out.


The damage is still being assessed in Texas and other areas affected by Harvey. Insurance risk giant Aon Benfield estimates the damage thus far is near $90 billion; however, other insurance groups put the total between $58 and $200 billion.

National Weather Service investigators have documented some astonishing storm rainfall totals. Harvey's peak rainfall was 60.58 inches 1.5 miles southwest of Nederland, Texas. Second place goes to a total of 60.54 inches measured about 1.3 miles north of Grove. Statistical techniques place these totals in perhaps a 2000-year return interval, which means that a recurrence would not happen, on the average, again for 2,000 years. Some recent research suggests such mega-floods will be more common in the future.


The recovery from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to be painfully slow. About half of the power has returned and one-third of the cell phone towers are still not working. An updated recent estimate from Aon Benfield puts the damage at $102 billion and climbing. If this figure did not increase, it would be the second costliest natural disaster in the world behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

On the personal side, the "official" death toll of 55 is certainly grossly underreported. A poll of over 100 funeral homes in Puerto Rico by CNN discovered about 500 deaths, most of which were attributed to the aftermath of Maria.


I never thought I would see a single tornado that took 100 or more lives. But that happened in May, 2011 when a massive EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. killing 158 people. Now, that tornado is being studied in a new way-by analyzing seismic energy.

Seismometers located near the tornado can measure the energy of the tornado's winds by analyzing the size of the waves generated by the shake as the tornado plows over the ground.

The verdict: The researchers noticed the size of the seismic waves increased as the tornado got stronger and decreased as the tornado weakened.

The down side: The tornado has to pass close to the seismometer. Also, the number of seismometers in "tornado alley" is low. I do not think this will replace current methods of inferring wind speeds from Doppler radar and observed damage indicators.