Harvey makes history: Storm dumps record-breaking 51.88 inches, a U.S. record

Strong winds batter seaside houses before the approaching Hurricane Harvey in Corpus Christi, Texas on August 25, 2017. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

HOUSTON, Texas — The rains in Cedar Bayou, near Mont Belvieu, Texas, reached 51.88 inches (132 centimeters) as of 3:30 p.m. CDT.

That’s a record for both Texas and the continental United States but it doesn’t quite pass the 52 inches (133 centimeters) from tropical cyclone Hiki in Kauai, Hawaii, in 1950 (before Hawaii became a state).

Earlier story below

Parts of the Houston region on Tuesday broke the nearly 40-year-old U.S. record for the biggest rainfall from a tropical system.

Tropical Storm Harvey has dumped 49.2 inches of rain at Mary’s Creek at Winding Road between Aug. 25 and Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record rainfall of 48 inches was set during Tropical Cyclone Amelia of 1978 in Medina, Texas.

The disaster is unfolding on an epic scale, with the nation’s fourth-largest city mostly paralyzed by the storm that parked itself over the Gulf Coast. With nearly 2 more feet of rain expected on top of the 30-plus inches in some places, authorities worried the worst might be yet to come.

Early Tuesday, Harvey continued to drench Houston and the surrounding area. Rain fell at about half an inch per hour over Harris County — home to Houston — and up to 2 inches per hour to the east.

Forecasters expect the storm to linger over the Gulf before heading back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday. The system will then head north and lose its tropical strength.

It could creep as far east as Mississippi by Thursday, meaning New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina unleashed its full wrath in 2005, is in Harvey’s path.

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