Hurricane Harvey accounts for more than half of Houston's 2017 rainfall.
Hurricane Harvey accounts for more than half of Houston's 2017 rainfall.
Photo by Abrahan Garza

As of Tuesday morning, Houston had received more rainfall than in any other year on record — with nearly three months left in 2017 to add to that total.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport received 1.46 inches of rain overnight, the Houston/Galveston branch of the National Weather Service announced, pushing its annual rainfall total to 73.51 inches.

Hurricane Harvey, which dumped nearly 40 inches of rain at Bush Airport and more than 50 inches in other areas of Houston, accounts for more than half of the city's 2017 rainfall to date.

"When you have tropical storms and hurricanes like we have, like Harvey, which was such a big rainmaker, you're going to have higher rainfall totals," said Nikki Hathaway, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Hathaway said forecasters are unable to project how much more rain Houston will get this year, but if Houston gets average rainfall in October, November and December, it can expect about 13 more inches of precipitation. That would bring the yearly total to an astounding 86.51 inches — the height of Houston Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon, plus two inches.

The old annual record for Houston, 72.86 inches, was set in 1900, the same year the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history destroyed Galveston. National Weather Service records date back to 1888.

While meteorologists caution against conflating individual weather events with climate patterns, the Memorial Day and Tax Day floods of 2015 and 2016 also helped those years see higher than average rainfall. Houston's mean annual rainfall is 49.8 inches, but the city saw 70.03 inches in 2015 and 60.96 inches this past year.

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