Historic flooding—called “biblical” by almost every news organization—has paralyzed southeast Texas, evacuating neighborhoods, cancelling flights, and closing schools. The heaviest rain fell around Houston, where some areas saw 24-hour rainfall totals of up to 17 inches. At least seven people have died due to flooding. And more rain is forecasted.
The rainfall records didn’t just break. They shattered all throughout the region. At times, torrential downpours were dropping up to four inches of rain per hour.
Houston officials have performed over 1,222 rescues, including a dramatic one involving swimming horses to safety. The ground is so saturated that roads and retaining walls have collapsed. The water came up so quickly in some places that creeks rose up to 20 inches in a few hours. Cars went from driving to floating in a matter of minutes. Several people were rescued on live TV.
At fault is a weather phenomenon called a blocking pattern, where a stubborn jet stream prevents a weather system from moving along—in this case, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Extra-large blocking patterns and the heavy rainfall they cause are just a few of the extreme weather events that scientists say we’ll see more of thanks to the way the planet is warming. This seems to be the case in Houston, which saw record-breaking flash floods just last year.